I had promised to take Judah swimming after he waited out my Yoga class at the gym’s Kids Club. However, his cool surfer dude board shorts are MIA. So in a panic to make it to my class on time and not disappoint a 3 year old, we dashed to Sports Basement en route to the gym. This was the only child sized swimsuit they had in stock.
The stigma of a Speedo swimsuit must be genetically encoded in the male DNA because promptly after I put it on him he stuffed himself in the locker next to him saying, “I don’t want anyone to see me. I’m a shy guy.” Luckily, when faced with the prospect of swimming in a Speedo or going home to take a nap, he quickly got over it. Even posed for this photo. I just hope he’s not scarred for life.
Like most of us in our generation, I was raised in an environment that emphasized the similarities between the sexes, not the differences. I thought we were all equal and the same and never really questioned it, until I had a kid.I now realize the folly of that belief.For it’s never been more clear to me that boys and girls are fundamentally wired differently.And there’s nothing like the raw impulses of children to hammer that home.
What’s most shocking to me is how the communication style and emotional needs between the sexes are so apparent, even at age 3. Take, for example, the scene above. That’s my little guy, Judah, and his Thai girlfriend, Monet. Every time they get together the same thing happens. She goes to the ends of the earth to vie for his attention and he pretty much ignores her. The more she tries, the more he pulls away. Because, you know, when you’re 3 years old, what can compete with smashing up cars and pretending to be Kung Fu Panda? Not girls anyway….yet.
Recently Monet spent the entire afternoon trying to hold Judah’s hand, much to his chagrin. After trying to escape this nonsense unsuccessfully, my little caveman threw his arms up in exasperation and hollered: “MONET! Just because I don’t hold your hand, doesn’t mean I don’t love you!!”
Do you remember this Simpson’s episode, ‘Bart’s Dog Gets an F’? The one where the family despairs because Santa’s Little Helper can’t be trained. Then you see the dog’s perspective on the situation and all he can hear is ‘Blah, blah, blah…food. Blah, blah, blah…steak.’ And so on.
That’s pretty much what life is like with a 3 year old. Both dogs and toddlers have very selective hearing and a Pavlovian response to some key words. Life is much easier for me now that I’ve realized this. Now instead of talking myself blue in the face – pleading and rationalizing with a toddler to cooperate, behave or listen – I just blurt out words like present, gummy bunnies, ice cream cone or jelly bean and he’s right at my side like an obedient little puppy; following me around until said magic word is procured. (“What did you say Mommy? Did you say jelly bean? Is that what you said?”)
It’s so much more energy efficient and pleasant for everyone. Safe too. (‘Judah, I’ll give you a jelly bean if you promise to hold my hand and not run into the street all the way to the park.’) We’re just one big happy family now. An endless display of tricks and treats. So if you see some crazy lady walking around San Francisco with a bag full of jelly beans and a 3 year old panting by her side, that’s me. Say hi!