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Sugar & spice, puppy dog tails: the debate continues

By Katie Scarvey
Salisbury Post
Lately, I seem to be overhearing a lot of conversations about the differences between raising boys and girls, things like: “Girls are so much harder to raise.” I’ve even heard women openly admit that they prefer their sons. I wish I hadn’t heard that because it makes my blood boil.
I’ve heard mothers say, “I just can’t imagine having girls” in a tone that suggests the experience would be like raising a rabid weasel.
If you’re a woman, how can not imagine having a girl? Were you so horrible that the thought of raising some version of yourself is inconceivable?
I get weary of all the distinctions people make between sons and daughters, the sweeping pronouncements, the certainty that one is sugar, the other puppy dog tails. I have two daughters, with very different ways of approaching the world. If one were a boy and one were a girl, I might be tempted to attribute those differences to gender when in fact, they are simply human variations.
I would never deny that there are some hardwired differences between boys and girls. Boys tend to be more physically active and aggressive. Girls are much less likely than boys to chew their peanut butter sandwiches into the shape of a gun or make rude noises just for fun. And while I hate to admit it, I think it may be true that girls have more emotional drama in their friendships, although it hasn’t been a problem in my house.
On one parenting discussion group, a mom put it this way: “Boys duke it out, then move on. Girls keep nipping at the ankles until they draw blood …” Fortunately, there are plenty of girls and boys who are neither duke-it-outers nor ankle nippers.
I’ve also heard sons are more affectionate to moms than daughters. I have no basis to compare, but I’ve certainly never felt deprived of hugs and kisses.
I also frequently hear parents say that their daughters are more high maintenance than their sons. Sometimes my daughter Quinn requests certain items at the grocery store so she can cook dinner for us. Does that count?
But those girls who really are high maintenance and proud of it, the ones who demand $500 prom dresses or a new car before they even have a job ó could it be because they’ve been treated like little princesses, with every whim indulged? Could it be that parents have unwittingly created the monster?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m raising two complex humans who happen to be girls. The fact that they are girls usually only figures in when we are shopping for clothes or discussing who we think is cute.
For the record, all three of us Scarvey girls think that boys are cute, especially Johnny Depp, and especially when his hair is clean. Not so much as Willie Wonka.
I will admit that for a moment a few weeks ago, while looking at the 203rd prom dress with my older daughter Spencer, I did consider that it might be easier to have a boy. How hard can it be to find a good-looking tuxedo to rent?
But mostly, the outing was a lot of fun, and it was nice to realize that our tastes in prom gowns are very similar, as is our sense of what is appropriate to spend. Neither of us goes for spangly or poofy or overpriced.We found a gorgeous dress that makes her, at least in her mother’s eyes, look like a princess.
But a low-maintenance one.
Contact Katie Scarvey at 704-797-4270 or kscarvey@salisburypost.com.

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