Flowers Versus Safaris

Dear Blue,

Burlington Coat Factory, on the corner of Baldwin and Duarte, does a neat little trick. A regular sized department store from the outside, it plays a trick on physics and opens up into a three-story emporium on the inside. It’s like Hermione’s purse in Harry Potter. It was the third floor we wanted, the aptly named “Baby Depot.” Nestled within the armada of strollers, forests of onesies and walls festooned with pacifiers, a crib mattress was our target.

We ended up mulling over buying a dinosaur quilt for a half hour before ultimately leaving the store with just a beanie in hand. While there was the occasional robot, car or construction motif sprinkled in the spread of blankets before us, the overwhelming majority of sets either featured butterflies and flowers, or jungle animals.

I guess jungle animals are the “in” thing for baby boys right now. I’m not sure why jungle animals are so tied in with nursery themes. As cute as monkeys and lions and and hippos may be on a quilt, in real life, it would be nothing but nomnomnom… Aaaannd Goodbye Blue. Don’t believe me? Check out this, and then try to tell me (like some of the commenters) that the lion was trying to “play” with the little guy. Jungle animals are carnivores. You are carne. That’s a bad combination, Blue.

Disregarding that obvious fact, it’s clear why jungle animals are associated with boys. You share wildness, and parents, no matter how much they complain of this essential nature, know that in its mature form, wildness evolves into some positive things. Pride. Boldness. Tenacity. Courage. Just to name a few. Every parent wants this for their baby boy. Hence, jungle animals for boys.

And flowers for girls. To be honest, Blue, I’m glad you’re a boy.

If the essential nature of wildness is what parents want to encourage in boys, then beauty is what they hope to inspire in their little girls. At their core, the female portion of our species is just better at being human, Blue. Just know it now. Some day, we hope to mold you into a man full of empathy, compassion and kindness towards others, but you probably won’t get there until you’re pushing thirty. Even then, on a relational scale you’d be the equivalent of a five year old girl. They’re just…better people.

It’s not your fault, Blue. Boys and girls, men and women, are just different. Even though we occupy the same planet, we come from different worlds. The best way to illustrate is through example.

Take your cousins Annabelle and Jacob. One day, your mother and I go over to their house to hang out. While we’re playing, we start to dance around. Your cousin Annabelle loves to dance, and as she starts to twirl around, showcasing her latest ballet moves, she becomes so overwhelmed with excitement and glee that she rushes over to your mother and hugs her leg tightly. She’s happy, and being a girl, she understands intuitively how to convey her emotion in a way that immediately relates her to others.

Your cousin Jacob, on the other hand, is a proper barbarian. After dancing with Annabelle, we started to chant his name. It’s a ritual we have. Caught up in the fervor of the chant, Jacob started to pump his arms up and down while stomping his feet. He squealed with delight as the chant heightened, and at its apex, overcome with excitement and with no other available outlet, he searched around frantically, locked in my thigh, and rushed in to bite it while I held him at bay. He just had to do SOMETHING, and his essential wildness did the rest.

See the difference? One of them gives hugs. The other draws blood. Sounds like one is definitely better, but here’s the rub. On both fronts, it takes a lot of good parenting. Boys, by the nature we’ve established thus far, are wild and destructive. It takes a lot of wisdom, effort, perseverance and patience in order to turn that tornado of energy into something that’s productive, not destructive, to society. But it’s a straightforward path.

Girls require good parenting, too. The approach is much less straightforward, far more nuanced. Girls don’t need to contained. They need to be nurtured, to be taught how to properly channel all of that raw emotion they feel into something that’s healthy. There are so very many ways that can go wrong, Blue, and the way is long and winding.

Honestly…raising a lion sounds way easier than growing a rose.

-Dad

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