Have you noticed that boys and girls are different? (and no, I don’t mean the obvious anatomical differences!). For those of us parenting both boys and girls, this can be a revelation.

When we were first planning a family, Ian was very keen to have a girl first. “A girl can look after her brothers, and make sure they don’t get into too much trouble!” he said (bear in mind that he comes from a family of three boys).

He was therefore delighted when we had the Little Princess. Naturally, being a modest sort of a bloke, he claimed he had done this completely by design. After all, he said “It’s us blokes’ sperm that determines the sex of a child, and I’d decided what I wanted”. A good point, although not necessarily one that would withstand too much scientific scrutiny!

On the other hand, I grew up with only one sister, so I was totally unprepared for the arrival of our first son; the soon-to-be Mighty Middle. He was noisy, fully of energy, liked bashing things and generally causing havoc.

“What’s wrong with him?” I cried, being convinced we had a child with ADHD. “Don’t worry” my man assured me, “he’s a normal little boy!” I’d have to say I didn’t believe him at the time, but with the subsequent arrival of Sam the Man, and after observing many other boys, I reluctantly conceded that he was right!

Having a little girl in the family has been quite a revelation for Ian. If you’ve got one yourself, you’ll know they’re great at having “attitude”, and specialize in eye rolling, door slamming, tears and sulking (and they don’t wait until the teenage years to develop these theatrical talents!). Ian was totally unprepared for this – “What’s wrong with her?” he cried, “she’s an emotional drama queen!”. “Don’t worry”, I assured him with a wry smile, “she’s just a normal little girl!”

Mornings are a great illustration of these differences – my informal market research with other parents reveals these fascinating facts: girls like to wake up slowly, peacefully and come around gradually to their waking day. A nice quiet cuddle, a read of a book, or a (parental censor approved) tv programme will do the job nicely.

Boys on the other hand, leap out of bed, run down the corridor yelling and singing, and kick or hit anything that happens to be in their way (sisters included).

Using a vehicular analogy, girls come out of bed very gently in 1st gear with a Granny at the wheel, whilst boys emerge with engine screaming at 10,000 RPM driven by Mario Andretti. And they seem to continue at this pace until they collapse into bed at night, exhausted like little puppies.

Whatever their perceived shortcomings, I can honestly say we’re delighted to be parenting kids of both genders.

After all, is there a mum in the world who can resist the hugs, kisses and declarations of love from their son?  Boys always seem to have a soft spot in their hearts for their mum, no matter how big, tough and burly they become!

And what dad can resist a smile (or tears!) from their beloved daughter?  Even the toughest, most macho men go all mushy inside when it comes to their little (and not so little) girls.

So enjoy your kids, whatever sort you’ve got…Vive la Difference, I say!


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Kerry Burridge is mum to three great kids and was Kiwi Families founding Editor.

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