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Blog, Communications, Culture

What Little Kids Are Made Of


This weekend, I witnessed the real life embodiment of the old nursery rhyme about what little boys and girls are made of.

Friday morning, my wife, 16–week-old daughter and I went to a friend’s house in New Jersey. We were all in town for Thanksgiving and the traditions that come with it — for 19 years, there’s been a football game and a party. For the last several years, there’s been a kiddie-get-together.

I never went to the kiddie-get-together. I played football.

This year, however, I broke away from one tradition — football — and participated in another. This was because I broke my foot over the summer and I’m still not game ready. Maybe next year. But this year, I went and hung out with my friends and their kids. Lots of kids.

As my baby daughter was showing off her sweet new rolling skills — from back to tummy — I saw two simultaneous scenarios unfold that I haven’t been able to shake.

Scenario One:
Four boys, all between 3.5 and 4.5-years-old, huddled around a toy. I’m not exactly sure what the toy was, but it was tall enough for the boys to stand around and each be able to play with a particular part. But instead of each boy play with a particular part, each boy wanted to play with the whole thing. This led to the boys screaming: “This is MINE!” “NO! THIS IS MINE” This went on for a couple of minutes before one of the dads went to break it up.

Standing across the other side of the room, I joked and said, “Glad I have a girl.”

But then I looked down and saw scenario number two.

Scenario Two:
Two girls, one is 15-months, the other is 18-months, are sitting by themselves, playing contently. As if on cue and in response to the boys screaming at each other, the girls get up and walk to another. The 15-month-old has Goldfish. She walks to the 18-month-old, arm extended with a Goldfish pinched between her little thumb and forefinger. She wanted to share her food. In fact, she wanted to share her food so desperately that she started feeding the 18-month-old.

The 18-month-old gladly took, then ate, the Goldfish. Then she hugged the 15-month-old girl, who gladly hugged back. After they embraced, they went back to playing by themselves, contently.

Of course, there are other factors in play here: age, parenting techniques, a child’s natural setting, etc. But I was struck at the completely different ways each approached their situation.

Yes, it may be overly simplistic to say boys will resort to arguing loudly and violently, while girls will naturally share and hug. But when you see a real life “men are from Mars” and “women are from Venus” play out in front of you, it’s hard not to imagine what the world would be like if women were in charge.

This post originally ran on Medium on November 30, 2014.

About joshsternberg

Josh Sternberg is the content strategist for The Washington Post. Prior to that he was the media reporter for Digiday. Additional bylines include: The Atlantic, The Awl, Pacific Standard, Mashable, Huffington Post, Mediaite.

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