Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man are taking a bath – I can hear them on the baby monitor from downstairs. As I write, I think of the little things they say that make me laugh. Or cringe.
Ed: What boys drink Gatorade? Why do they drink it?
Gorilla Girl: Your boys, because they run soooo fast so much.
(NB: Ed is a coach, and his “boys” are cross-country runners).
Monkey Man: (seemingly out of the blue, but perhaps because of the beer/wine conversation) We will have a party when Kelly and Jeff come here again.
Where does this girl/boy divide come and why does it come so soon and with such force? As a feminist who has tried hard to avoid pink, princesses, and all things that assume a particular genetic gender divide, I am astonished continually by the overtly gendered discussions I engage in with Gorilla Girl. Gorilla girl refuses to wears pants, ever, and I have capitulated. I’d rather not fight about this one, choosing instead to hope that my acquiescence regarding tights, dresses, and all things pink will lead to alternative decisions later. Perhaps my allowance of pink dresses will somehow pay dividends when Gorilla Girl is a killer soccer player or punk rocker.
That this gender divide then insinuates itself into discussion around which gender drinks which type of alcohol, well, I only have myself to blame for that one. On several occasions, we have laughed with Kelly and Jeff over Monkey Man’s pronouncement that daddy drinks “beer juice.” Even with kids, life goes on, and adult beverages — as my good friend calls them — are part of that life.
Kids do learn fast, and from various sources, about cultural expectations and realities. It is astonishing how quickly our foibles are reflected back to us, as if the four-year olds are holding up a mirror with which we can inspect our vulnerabilities.