slugs and snails and puppy dog’s tails

March 14, 2011 § 8 Comments

Are little boys attracted to slime and dirt? Are little girls made of sugar, and spice, and all things nice? Admittedly my study of gender differences doesn’t have a robust sample size, consisting mainly of my two little male urchins and a handful of friends and family with children of a similar age, but it does appear to me that little girls don’t seem to be quite as addicted to worm-searching, insect-catching, and general mud-raking.

Yesterday all the 3yo wanted to do was play in the garden. He was mixing mud in a watering can, collecting piles of snails in an old flower pot, and excavating insects from under bits of wood and stone. 1yo happily joined in raking the mud with his fingers and pulling up clods of moss and earth from what previously resembled a lawn.

Neither child appears to be in the least bit squeamish. I have written on previous occasions about finding the 3yo pegging worms to the washing line and hanging them over tree branches. The other day on the way to pick my mum up from the station he informed me that he had put a slug in his pocket as a present for her.

And it’s not just the slimy things he’s not afraid of. Wriggly tickly things, and dead things, don’t seem to worry him either. Yesterday I brought our wigwam tent in from the garden shed and foolishly set it up in the sitting room without giving the groundsheet a decent shake out first. A pair of enormous black spiders scurried out onto the rug. “Don’t worry mummy!” shouts 3yo, and promptly catches one of them in his fist, spindly hairy legs sticking out between his fingers, and runs it out to the garden. On Saturday morning I nearly trod on a dead mouse, left by one of our cats on the stairs (probably a protest kill from The Cloud, who has an attitude problem, and turns his fluffy tail in protest every time we present him with a bowl of Iams.) I left the mouse on the stairs as its guts were spilling out and I needed a cup of tea to strengthen my stomach before removing it. 3yo gets up without me hearing, and the next thing I know he’s wiping his hands on his pyjama bottoms and declaring “dere was a mouse on de stairs mummy. I put it out the cat flap.” He is very comfortable with his position in the food chain, too. Before our roast dinner yesterday he declared “lambs are baby sheep. Before dey can walk yet” then tucked in happily to greedy mouthfuls.

IS this behaviour only a boy thing? I’d be interested to know, with a girl on the way. Or is it that I have conditioned him already to be a little tough guy. I’m trying to evaluate my own behaviour honestly here. I think it’s quite possible I’d be less inclined to push my two little girls out of the door to play in the muddy garden. Maybe my friends wouldn’t buy girls worm factories and insect observation jars for Christmas. I’m really hoping this isn’t the case, but I fear it might be. On the other hand I am sure there are many many girls out there who enjoy insects and mud digging as much as boys, and I’m hoping that I will encourage my little one to do the same, when the time comes.

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§ 8 Responses to slugs and snails and puppy dog’s tails

  • Him Up North says:

    A slight correction. Boys aren’t attracted to slime and dirt, it’s the other way round 🙂

    I think it’s nurture not nature which gives children their comfort zones. If your daughter is introduced to muck early on, she’ll love it.

  • I’m inclined to agree with you. From now on I’ll be nurturing room tidying and oven cleaning.

  • @msbettiebeige says:

    My 2.5yo daughter is a bit of both. She happily talks to snails, slugs and spiders and is quite happy to pick them up. Plays with mud and doesn’t mind rolling about on mucky floors, she adores trains and cars and would happily spend her life jumping in puddles.

    The same with animals, she adores them and even says “sorry darlin'” to every egg I crack. I think its good for children to be aware of everything around them. I’ve always been a parent who would prefer my child to come back covered in god knows what than be so strict about ‘keeping clean and tidy’ that I stop my children from doing all the things children SHOULD do 🙂

  • I'm So Fancy says:

    My girls like a bit of dirt too. Although the one that shows a bit of OCD can’t stand any kind of dirt on her bare feet. Reduced to sobbing tears she was, after a risotto dinner.

  • Ewww! pegging worms to washing lines? LOL I think it has to be a gender thing. We do tend to treat boys like boys and girls like errr, girls, but I know what you mean!

    CJ xx

  • it was pretty gross. But guess I only encouraged his behaviour more because I laughed so hard. Parenting skills? Hello?!

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