I have been looking through old photographs of when my children were young and I truly marvel at how different my children are. As a preschool teacher I was very aware of trying to offer my children the possibility to be exactly who they want to be and not to be defined by their gender - but despite offering cars, trains and the likes to my identical girls they were never used like they were when my son came along, and even though Michael had his own dolls he never played with them as much as the girls did.
I will never forget the day when he was 9 months old and we had just dropped off his sisters at preschool and Michael and I went out for a coffee date together in town (of course it was just me having the coffee)! As we sat in the café some people with inlines came in and he was fascinated by their feet - he then looked down at his feet and then gave me the look "why did you not give birth to me with wheels on my feet?"
The above film is Michael at the age of nearly 15 months totally engrossed in the car while his sisters were engaged in role-play in the pretend grocery store (Eureka). Michael's choices as a toddler were very different from his sisters when they were toddlers - even though they all had access to the same toys and experiences...
|Michael insisted in wearing a skirt to the French Bastille Day dance|
There have been activities that the children have always met with equal interest and enthusiasm - insects, animals, water, constructing with natural material and making chocolate cake! - to name a few.
|looking for lizards on holiday has always been a favourite|
|bug hunting - none of them fear holding bugs|
|constructing a stick city|
Sometimes we have to acknowledge the wonderful differences there are in boys and girls, but I think we always need to be aware that we are not holding anyone back or pushing too much due to gender. That we first and foremost see a child - a unique child - a child with potential - a competent child - a child with needs - and what we have to do - as teachers and as parents is to focus on the competency, the potential, the uniqueness and the needs regardless of gender - because only that way can we offer the child the possibility to acquire a full range of human talents and emotions which in turn will allow individuals to have a wider understanding and acceptance of others.