My daughter Allie recently started gymnastics. Her class is filled with little girls wearing leotards in a bundle of colors and one adorable little boy with a crooked bowl cut. (Let us call the boy Rufus for fun.) I sort of have a special place in my heart for boys with bowl cuts, and apparently, Allie does too. She is rather fascinated with the young man. Perhaps it is because she’s rarely around little boys her age or it could be due to the fact that he is the one person on this planet that talks more often than she does. Either way, he has clearly caught her attention.
After her class the other night, Allie was feeling quite inquisitive-particularly when it came to Rufus.
“Mom, there’s a boy in my gymaskits class. Why is there a boy in my gymnaskits class?” she asked, as she was undoubtedly busy scheming about what she would break when we got home.
“Well, Allie, boys can take gymnastics too.”
“It’s gymnaskits, mom,” she replied, in the tone of an annoyed tween, as if pronouncing the word correctly had labeled me the queen of losers.
“Fine then, Allie. GymnaSKITS.”
She sighed a littIe, still likely plotting the demise of some item in our home.
Truthfully, I thought the conversation would end there. But she went on and finally asked the question of all questions—“Mom, why are boys different than girls? Why is Rufus a boy, and why am I a girl?”
Honestly, I wasn’t quite prepared for the question, but as her mother, it was my responsibility to answer it. Still, I needed to kill some time to think up the best possible answer.
Quickly I replied, “There are a lot of reasons, Allie. I’ll explain them when we get home.”
“Okay,” she replied, “but do you know why I think Rufus is a boy and I’m a girl?”
“Why?” I asked, scared for her answer.
“Because he pees standing up, and that’s what boys do. They pee standing up. I pee sitting down. That’s what girls do.”
I laughed because it was partly true. I also laughed because I remember believing the same thing until one of my preschool classmates ran streaking from the bathroom with a red bow tie, a smile, and strange privates. As a three-and-a-half-year-old, I was mystified by the strange entity dangling from between his legs.
How did you address the different sexes issue with your children or child?