Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring break

It's spring break, and we're having quite an entertaining week. My mother-in-law is visiting from Las Vegas, and she brought along our niece, my wife's sister's daughter, who is about the same age as my son K.

K has been excited for weeks, anticipating his visit with B, and talking about all the fun he would have with his cousin.

There's just one problem; B is a girl.

K's at that age where he doesn't like girls, and neither do any of his friends, at least the cool ones don't. But while K loves his cousin dearly, she proved to be a liability in the company of his buddies, at a family Scout outing this past weekend. "Eeewe," one of the Scouts said when my niece approached the craft area. "It's a girl." For most of the remainder of the event, K was repelled from B like a mosquito from DEET.

Funny thing is, B seemed to understand her cousin's dilemma. She gave him his space; she didn't pressure him to hang out with her. While he prepared to build rain-gutter boats with the Scouts, she played alone on the playground. She watched him from the swings with a forlorn look on her face. She felt bad about the situation.

Funnier thing was that K felt bad, too. When the Scouts began building their rain-gutter boats, he left the table where they were working and motioned me over to talk. "Daddy, she's playing by herself," he said, looking worried. He wanted B to join the Scouts, but he didn't want to be the one to open the invitation.

I called over to B, and she joined us, sitting at the opposite end of the table where K sat with his buddies. When it came time to race the boats, none of the boys wanted to race against B. "It's a girl," I heard them whispering. So she raced against the 4-year-old little sister of another Scout. Age doesn't matter; a girl is a girl.

Things went better when it came time to make and fly kites. I helped K and B make their kites, and then they ran all over the park flying them. But the faster K ran, the faster B followed behind him, and the higher K's kite flew. She became tired of distancing herself from her cousin, and began to hang close to him. He was confused and embarrassed, but didn't leave her to play alone.

After the event — once most of the other Scouts had left — K and B were back together again, like inseparable twins.

Only one other problem: Arrangements had been made for S, one of K's best Scout buddies, to spend a day with us this week— today! With school being out, his mother needed a sitter.

I took notes of our day today. It' made a funny premise for a story.


  1. And people say life is easy when you're young.

  2. Good for your son to have the courage to go against his friends' pressure in the end...reminds me of Letter to Amy, where Peter invites Amy to his birthday party regardless of what the other boys think. I'm writing a new story about a boy who loves to make dolls--we need more conversations and role models if we're ever going to break down this gender mess...

  3. What sweet kids they are. They both sound like they are kind and sensitive and will end up being close their whole lives.

  4. Zetta, only reason he went against his friends pressure is because most of them had left the park by then. But your comments give me a great resolution the story I want to write.

    Your story about the boy and the dolls reminds me of a story I once wrote about a boy who liked to make puppets, but was shamed by his father for "making dolls."

    When I was a kid, there was park we used to go to in the summer. The boys and girls would split up -- boys to the basketball court, girls to the craft table. I wouldn't go near the basketball courts, preferring the craft table. I took many hits for that, but my talents were with my hands and beads. Not balls. So yes, the gender thing is a mess.

    Thanks Amy, Becky!