Posts Tagged ‘raising boys’

Middle Child Syndrome

Like it or not, the stereotypes are true about birth order and parental behaviour, at least in our house.

My oldest daughter gets to experience all those firsts, first. She was the first one to lose her first tooth. She was the first one to start school. She was the first one to have a sleepover or go to sleep away camp. And with each first she experiences, my husband and I experience it too, for the first time, ever. Being the first-born can be exciting and scary. It can also be stressful, knowing that you’re the first one to experience these things and all eyes (family eyes) are on you to see how you do. As the first-born you are treading into unknown territory for the family and siblings to follow. This can also be frustrating since as parents we tend to be more cautious and maybe not willing to let go when we should.

My youngest daughter, the baby in the family, may not get to experience things first but being the last child to experience things can also have a big impact. When my daughter starts school this Fall, she will be the last child entering school for the first time; I won’t have any little kids at home with me during the day (or at least half of the day). When she walked off into her summer camp program I cried on the way home knowing that she was the last. No more saving clothes or putting aside toys for a smaller member; she will be the last to use them.

Then there’s my poor son. I say poor because being the middle child I think he gets shortchanged, at least on the emotional end of things. The oldest child gets to experience things first, a new experience for everyone; the youngest child gets to experience things last, the last chance for everyone to live that moment; the middle child just experiences the moment.

I realize that each child is different and yes the first day of school is an important moment for each one of them and the parents, but in all honesty, the feeling behind this moment isn’t the same intensity as with the oldest or youngest child. I’m proud of my son and all his accomplishments, like starting school and joining Beavers and going into grade 1 (okay, that last thing I did get a little emotional at). But he’s not the first or the last and I find I react differently.

There is one saving grace in all of this. My son is the only boy which means he will probably have some firsts his sister’s won’t ever experience (first fist fight, first drag race). Maybe not those first, but he is the first to go to skateboard school and that’s pretty cool.

Okay, maybe it’s just me who reacts this way. Perhaps all those mothers out there with middle children share the joys and sorrows equally with all their kids. I never said I was the best at this mothering thing. At least I’ve recognized this discrepancy in my behaviour and they say recognizing your problem is the first step to fixing it. We’ll see.

Boy Clubs are for Boys

When our first child was born, a girl, we tried to raise her without falling into gender stereotypes. I would buy clothing based on something I liked versus shopping in just the girls section. My daughter wore a lot of outfits with monsters and aliens on them, mixed with a few dresses. I never put one of those baby headbands on her or barettes to show people passing by she was a girl. It didn’t matter if they knew or not. Even her toys were mixed with trucks and dolls sometimes playing together.

When our second child was born, a boy this time, we tried to follow the same philosophy though I did find this harder to do. I may have been open to my son wearing more feminine colours but I wasn’t planning on putting him in a dress just to make a statement. As my kids got a little order and their personalities developed I could definitely see a difference between my son and daughter. I think as a parent we can influence the type of people they will become but I believe that part of who they are is engrained in them before they are born.

My son is very much a boy. He’s super active and always moving; he has a hard time sitting still for a long period of time. He loves to create as long as it involves Lego or blocks or items from the recycling bin. He enjoys stories that are about super heros and pirates and underpants. Some things about his boyness I struggle to understand, I mean how funny can a joke about a bird pooping on your head really  be, but I’m coming to terms with it.

At school and in the playground and at T-ball, boys are required to listen and behave and show restraint. They’re mixed with girls and have to tone down their behaviour. I don’t disagree with this, I have two girls also and I wouldn’t want them knocked over by over zealous boys at recess. But boys need their own space to be boys, the loud, rambunctious, hyper boys. That’s one reason why I signed my son up for Beavers (a part of the Scouts program). It was his night to go out and do boy things. They run and play tag, they hunt for bugs, they practice wolf calls (the louder the better). My son loves it.

Now this freedom is being threatened, well in my opinion anyway. Now girls want to and can join the Scout groups. I think this is wrong. Now before you jump down my throat about how I’m perpetuating stereotypes and that girls should be allowed to do the same things as boys, this isn’t an argument against girls. I’m all for girls being given the same opportunities as boys. I think if girls want to dig in the dirt and built forts and dance under a full moon they should be allowed to. I just think they need to do it in their own group.

Boys and girls are different. I think it’s great that they’re integrated in school and clubs and as friends and other activities, but I also think it’s important that they have their own groups. Once you add girls into the mix, now boys need to be restrained from yelling as loud and running as fast and being as rough and that’s not fair.

I think my two girls are very fortunate to have access to so many opportunities through school and after school and going forward, and I have those parents and children who pushed for equal opportunities to thank and I am thankful. But as girls gain ground, boys are loosing theirs. Instead they are guilted into wanting to bond with boys, to do boy things, to play without girls. I try to raise my son to be respectful of everyone but he should also be proud that he’s a boy. Now if only the parents of his Beaver troop believed that too.

Write a Review Wednesday: Petit, The Monster

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Chronicle Books High Five with Julius and Friends. This week we’re looking at Groundwood BooksPetit, the Monster (age 2-5 ), written and illustrated by Isol. I have to thank Trish at Groundwood Books for my review copy.

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Petit is a boy. Sometimes he’s bad, like when scarring the pigeons or trying to do math. Sometimes he’s good, like when he tells stories or takes care of his toys. Petit tries to be good but the harder he tries the worse things seem to turn out. There seems to be only one explanation in Petit’s mind. He must be a not-yet-discovered good-bad boy monster.

My first-born, a girl, was so perfect. She was well-behaved and followed the rules, she had great empathy for others, even as a toddler. I use to think other parents, especially those of boys, just didn’t know how to raise their kids properly.

Then I had my son and everything changed.

I’ll admit it, boys are a unique creature. I think that’s what drew me to Petit, The Monster. As I read this to my kids I could see my son in Petit’s shoes; trying to be good but giving into his more adventurous, loud and rough boy side.

My son, just like Petit, wonders about his behaviour too. We talk often about what’s good and what’s bad. We talk about how hard it is to control certain impulses. My son isn’t bad; he isn’t a monster. He’s just a boy, like Petit, trying to sort out who he is, why he behaves the way he does and how to change it, well some of it.

I love that Petit, The Monster shows my son that this is a struggle boys go through, not just him. I think he appreciates it more when it’s not just his mom telling him so (because moms are supposed to love you no matter what).

I also love the end of the book with Petit discovers that his mom is also good and bad. We all have our moments. Petit, The Monster is a great book to help the young boy in your family understand he’s not alone. It also helped my two girls understand too that boys are indeed unique creatures.

You can add a copy of Petit, The Monster to your own library by visit your independent book seller or Groundwood Books. For other great book ideas for kids, read through the other Write a Review Wednesday posts.