Saturday, August 21, 2010

Boys & Girls: What's the Difference?

I was going through junk mail at the table today with my 21-month-old daughter.  She was having fun finding shapes, colors, boys, girls and letters in the different ads and what not.  She got to one and pointed to the image and said "Boy."  As per the usual, I looked to see and praise her for being right.  But then I realized what she was pointing at and thought, well I guess it could really go either way. 


This is a mailer from a local church advertising a marriage seminar.  
Please note the bird shit all over the heart and 
the angel...symbolizing rough patches in relationships.
The whole visual concept is scattered, but oh well.

I had my wife take a look and she said, "well it does have blue on. Besides, aren't all angels male? Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer...all boys."  I replied, I thought they were all supposed to be sexless, but it didn't really matter.  She's wearing blue.  I don't think she's established that connection yet."

So she flipped it over and I had her find me the heart, the bird, blue and red.  She then started in with "Girl, Boy, Boy."  I watched and I can't for the life of me understand how she differentiated one from the other.  You take a look and see.
According to her, the angels in Blue and Pink are Boys.
The angel in Yellow is a Girl.
Magical little streams of fabric are held in place to hide the truth.

If you go back to the cover angel, he's looking pretty girly in my opinion.  So how do we tell the difference?  I'm not getting into the whole Nature vs Nurture debate here.  I'm just curious, how she's decided who is what.  She's not 100% accurate in real life either.  She's pointed at boys and said girl...but the three times I can recall, it was HIGHLY questionable.  Two were little African-American boys.  One with long hair past his shoulders at the park.  Another had braids and beads at the grocery store.  The third was an ambiguous white boy at the mall with blond shoulder length hair...who, if his mother hadn't corrected her, I wouldn't have noticed. 

She hasn't figured out that her baby brother is a boy yet.  He's just always Baby.  Which, to be perfectly honest, is what I expected her to think the cupid  cherub things were: winged babies.  She points them out in real life, so why was this any different?

We first started speaking in terms of boy and girl, after she began calling total strangers Mommy and Daddy.  She'd point to a woman and say Mommy and like wise with men.  That needed to be nipped in the bud...especially when we were alone with her.  My child is no bastard.  We would say that Mommy is a girl, Berlin is a girl and Daddy is a boy.  She got it quickly and it only took a day or so for the spoken word to follow.  

So aside from obvious adult differences, how does she separate the two in children if we haven't laid out the specifics?  Intuition?  Pheromones? What do you think?

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