If I had a My Little Pony for every person who smiled and exclaimed how lucky we are for having girls, followed by some sing-song comment like “at least you don’t have boys” or “I’d trade my boy for three girls any day”, followed by light-hearted peals of laughter, then I would be a freakin’ Princess of Pony Land. Stop telling me girls are easier than boys.
Okay, I don’t have any boy children. I’d imagine they are different to girl children. I am in no doubt there are marked differences, but I would not say either child is “easier” than the other. And I surely wouldn’t generalise as to how they are different.
You see, I’ve met many a quiet, gentle boy. I have also met many a loud, rush around, aggressive girl. I have also met boys who never sit still and like to randomly bash stuff with other stuff. I have also met boys who spend much of their day playing with Barbies and wearing princess outfits. To assume that inattentive, violent, ants-in-pants behaviour is inherently a boy characteristic is just plain naive. The same applies to painting girls with the pink, sparkly, placid brush.
One thing I am fairly certain of, after having three children of the same sex, is that their differences are based on their personality. They came out of me with their personality well and truly intact. Yes, my girls like doing craft and watching Barbie movies. They also like climbing up the inside of door frames like spiders and have an extensive collection of much-loved Lego. They have questionable hygiene, have problems leaving toilets fresh and have no qualms sleeping in a bed of biscuit crumbs.
Having girls makes life no easier than someone who has boys. They still eat all of the time. They talk all of the time. They do craft all of the time, which involves much bickering over supplies and often ends with me sitting alone doing the project while they play outside. And then me cleaning it up. They fight – verbally, mentally and physically. They scream. They demand bandaids for scratches. They wet their bed. They have tantrums. They make loads of noise. They have very short attention spans – swapping between building, to making, to singing, to eating, to more eating, to demanding stuff, to fighting, to climbing, to watching TV, to playing on the computer, to collecting rocks, to whatever they damn well want. All of the time wanting.
They have their own individual needs. They are people who live and breathe and worry and laugh and cry and live fully. They suck everything out of life and sometimes everything out of my life, too.
And then when they need it, they sit. They read, they cuddle, they lay upside-down on the couch watching a movie, they draw, they put on puppet shows and plays, they dance, they learn, they’re brave, they get their highest score in a video game, they squeal with joy, they bake, they hold hands, they chat, they sit quietly in the garden tending to their fairy homes and then sometimes they go to sleep at a reasonable hour and don’t sneak into our bed. And they give the best kisses imaginable.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is don’t assume, based on antiquated gender stereotypes, that you have it in any way easier based on the genitals of your child. All children are hard work. All children come with their own challenges. All children are amazing, complex and wonderful.
To say a girl is easier than a boy implies some sort of compliance. It just reinforces everything we are trying to dismantle. Girls and boys are unique, but none are “easier”.