Poop Decks and Gender
26 Aug 2002

Phrase of the Summer: "Fire on the poop deck
Evidently this phrase comes from "Spongebob" although I can't verify that. All the kids think this phrase is hilarious and I suppose it is from a 5 year old point of view. I can recall hearing the phrase and a child and also thinking it fairly hilarious.

Jess has taken this a step further and yells this phrase right before he squats and poops.

This would be ok were it not that we're trying really hard to potty train him.

Generally speaking, the boys, because they are into all things mechanical, are far more fascinated by the idea of a "poop deck." This, once again, raises the question of the difference between boys and girls. Girls, as conventional wisdom goes, mature faster than boys. I've always found this idea a bit silly because I've never met a female my age that didn't pretty much seem to behave within the range of what passes for "my age."

I've pondered this idea that "girls mature faster" since I first started hearing the phrase as a young boy. I remember in 5th or 6th grade the girls being separated from the boys and being taken into the gym or cafeteria and given some kind of secret information about something that the boys could not be privy to because "girls mature faster."
I blanched at this idea then--especially after witnessing that smug and haughty sense of superiority the girls had in refusing to share the secret info with the boys. I still want to know what the heck those girls were being taught that day. I have a feeling it involve the secret female mind control techniques and other secrets that females seem to possess.

Since multiples are a special socio-biological petry dish in which to view how kids with the exact same experiences react to things in such different ways, I've been trying to test this "early maturity" concept by observing the kids.

My conclusion is that the question is wrong. Girls and boys mature so differently that comparing their maturity to each other's is like comparing a Lion's hunting ability by the distance in which he can fly. The question is inherently flawed. Compare girls to girls and boys to boys but not to each other.

I realize the enourmous political implications of this statement, but, I'll stand by it anyway. While I'm not about to put any gender specific limitations on my children, I can't ignore that gender plays a role in how they react to things.

Girls develop certain abilities we interpret as maturity much earlier than boys. For example, I agree that Girls develop fine motor skills far earlier than boys. This enables them to reach certain developmental milestones way sooner than most boys--writing, buttoning, shoe tying, lock picking and loads of other things we use to gauge development are made possible by these fine motor skills.

Sara tends to master these kind of skills way faster than the boys. Sara was the first to write her name, button, zip, tie and other dressing related skill, but more impressively, she was the first by a full year in her ability to spit with any accuracy which I believe is related to her female specific advanced fine motor skills. But does that mean she's more mature than the boys?

I don't think so. Zane oft mentioned people skills are incredibly advanced--even by adult standards, and Carter has an a highly developed ability for abstract and analytical thought.

The area where the boys seem to share similar skill which diverge from their sister is in object identification. For example, the boys can identify every major car manufacturer by sight and most of the major car models but Sara displays no interest in cars and therefore has little ability to play and no particular interest in the "name that car" game. But is learning how to identify cars--or anything else the boys do that Sara doesn't--not also a sign of maturity?

I find it generally useful to apply the "Caveman Test" to these type questions. The "Caveman Test" traces human behavior back to its sources and in postulating how the Caveman's utilitarian behavior has been transformed into our somewhat bizarre and confused evolution, we can better understand why the heck humans act the way we do. I'm not sure this whole exersize is inherently useful, but I do it anyway.

Lets look at childhood "maturity" in the context of our cavemen brethren.

To survive, a caveboy would need to learn to hunt for food and defend the cave from hostilities. In order to do this, recognition of visual details would be very, very important. If you can't tell the difference between the things which are good to eat and those which are not, the clan doesn't survive. If you can't tell the difference between the markings of your clan and your rival clan, you can't tell when to fight and when to embrace a stranger.

This is very similar to the boy's ability to differentiate between car logos, body styles, and other ephemera they have gravitated toward.

To be honest, I often can't tell the difference between Honda logos and Toyota logos. The boys can and Sara doesn't care. On the other hand, Sara knows how to write, button buttons, adorn herself with rouges, polishes, and other finery, read, send email, and shop for shoes. These are all skills which would serve her cavewomen sisters very well.

So does that make one more mature than the other? Nope, it just makes them different.
Kelly @ 14:01 |
School Days 2002
14 Aug 2002

Posted Wednesday, 8/14/2002-9:31:41 AM

School Days, School Days, Good 'ol something, something....

Sara, Carter, and Zane are beginning school. This is a good thing--really it is.

But when did they grow up?

I suppose I'm feeling the typical push/pull of parenthood--you want them to grow up, just not before you forget to notice.

Although I feel a bit like I've failed to fully appreciate the Kid's special time before they begin the long slog through life that begins with Kindergarten, this is really a great milestone of success.

Ok, to call it success is a bit of a stretch. The children have managed to reach school age despite my parentin--not because of it.

The fact that we've all survived is worthy of some credit, isn't it? I think so. However, still I feel a faint, wistful, sadness that they are now starting on the treadmill toward adulthood which will grind the gears off all of us.

I'm not really sad for them--they have no awareness of having passed through their only truly carefree time. I'm not even sad about the fact that I feel like there's not been enough time to enjoy this part of their lives--which, by the way, I have enjoyed a little.

I'm really jealous. Old age is always jealous of youth and I am jealous.

I want the opportunity to screw-up all the things I screwed up from age 0 to age 40--only this time I want to screw it up differently.

That is, screw up everything and be born rich.

And have an army of robot minions to do all my menial work.

And be a race car driver.

And a cowboy.

And a fireman.

And strong like Popeye without having to eat spinich.

Ok, so I won't get any of these things and to be honest, I don't want most of them. I'll take the money and the robots and I wouldn't mind having a ranch to play on. But fast cars don't really interest me anymore and firefighting is too dangerous and, blow me down, but Popeye has to live with Olive Oyl and that can't be any good.

So, I guess I'll just keep my life.

Thanks for listening.

Kelly @ 14:16 |