Friday, October 3, 2014

Writing Reams and Girl Traits

I sure get a kick out of the torrent of paper rained down on me throughout the day by our five-year-old girl. 

In any given day, Mary will produce . . . 

A word search! Have some time to pass? She's got a word search for you to complete.

A list of the birthdays in our family! Just so we don't forget the order in which they will come.

A To Do List for Friday! There are so many activities of which to keep track.

And several pictures every day, including sometimes teaching her three-year-old sister how to draw.

Mama reading a book while seated in a chair next to a berry bush which is in front of a tree, with the sun shining overhead.

Mama reading a book while seated in a chair next to a berry bush which is in front of a tree, with the sun shining overhead.

I have experience with only one boy so far, now nearly eight, but he is nothing like this in regard to writing. His skills of exhibiting constant humor, entertaining, and possessing burbling physical energy that never dissipates are harder to capture in sweet blog posts. I certainly see the same sort of boyish expressions among the many boys in our homeschooling co-op and community.

It is an interesting meditation for me to remember that what are considered typical girl skills--like Mary at five being able to sit still for an hour or more, quietly entertaining herself, writing reams of letters--are valued at this age because they are easy for the parents and school teachers, not because they are objectively always desired behavior. What are considered typical boy behaviors aren't nearly so valued at these young ages because the burbling energy that can run a farm, fight a battle, or move mountains does not sit still in a school desk for more than 27 seconds. The entertaining banter and joke-telling that prattles on all day without stopping, whether it's an appropriate time or not, may well fit the politician who needs an enormous reservoir of charisma to run this country, but it sure is distracting at the dinner or school table. The sensory needs for rough-and-tumble play and wrestling will one day allow that grown man to be tough, to defend his family, to pull the plow, to do the 12-hour car drives, or to complete all the yard labor of a suburban home currently but currently cause the boy never to cease wrestling his brother, even during sit-still-it's-story-time or calm-down-we're-walking-into-Mass-time. These male traits are a challenge right now and it's so easy for a mother (by her nature female!) to see them only as problems to be corrected especially in comparison to the quiet and still little girl (whose own traits will need correcting and molding into adulthood!).

Note to self!


  1. Your meditation is so wise and sweet! But I'll be honest: anytime I hear "boys are like x, girls are like x" I feel the need to shrug it off. The progressive feminist side in me wants to scream GENDER STEREOTYPES!!!!! But I know that there's much truth and fruit in understanding that yes, boys and girls are different! Maybe I feel this way because I find myself having some typically masculine personality traits, and truth be told, they make me feel a little like an outsider.

    Anyway-Mary is super talented, as always, and you are very wise and smart-as always. God bless! :) -Emiliann W.

  2. "These male traits are a challenge right now and it's so easy for a mother (by her nature female!) to see them only as problems to be corrected especially in comparison to the quiet and still little girl..."

    Thank you for this much needed perspective today.

    [Of note: I have followed your blog since before Margaret was born and should have/could have commented in solidarity a thousand times before now. I can not tell you how incredibly refreshing your honesty is and how it often resonates so personally with me. Perhaps you would be surprised to find in your audience a lapsed-Catholic mother of just one child who finds an unusual amount of support and encouragement here.
    Thanks you for sharing your motherhood journey....]

  3. ^^^ Wow Katherine! You touch so many people! I love your insights on boys and will be leaning heavily on your advice as Nathaniel grows up.

  4. Your insight on boys is, as you know, one of the many reasons we decided to start homeschooling. I didn't want my son being treated like a "defective girl" in school.

  5. Dear Emiliann,

    If you, at your young age, see any truth at all in the fact that boys and girls are generally, statistically different, I think you will see it more and more as the years pass. And, of course, these are all generalities, traits are on a spectrum, not black-and-white. God didn't make us with cookie cutter molds.

    I know (really I do) how hard it can be to feel that females are oppressed and need to progress up a scale to equality. It is a beautiful history into which to delve to learn that Jesus and the early Christians did the most in the history of mankind to raise the dignity of females from when they were truly oppressed. Of course, that means God really shed the light on the equal dignity of females, while also clarifying our different roles in which we will generally find the most peace and happiness.

    This is a tricky subject in this modern world and one about which I've traveled the full spectrum over the course of my life.

    God bless,
    Mrs. Lauer

  6. Dear Anonymous Lapsed Catholic,

    I am so happy you introduced yourself! You truly made my day. I am delighted to hear that you have been 'around' for nearly four years now and only wish you had said 'hi' earlier.

    Today is the First Saturday of the month, a day dedicated to the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. I invite you to pray the Rosary this week so our Blessed Mother--who I'm sure misses you!--will feel welcome to shower her graces upon you.

    The Rosary can be such a comfort, even if one is rusty or arid.

    I will pray my Rosary for you, dear one!

    God bless you,

  7. Priscilla: Your tank of a boy at six months maybe isn't ready to take over the world, but it looks like he's going to start by trying to take over the gymnasium full of kids on Friday! ;P


  8. Thank you for your beautiful response Mrs. Lauer! I really do appreciate it. -Emiliann W.