Boys Can Do Anything.

I’ve read that children are most fully immersed in gender stereotyping between the ages of 5-7, and children start over-applying gender rules much younger than that, trying to get the whole thing sorted.

As a consequence, the three-year-old and I have been having numerous inane discussions about what girls and boys are and are not supposed to do.

We’ve also been through a list of our relations and acquaintances and made a two-column mental inventory about which of you have penises and which vulvas. Don’t be surprised if it comes up in conversation next time we meet.

Our conversations go a bit like this:

Me: No, that’s not a boy. That’s a girl. Girls have short hair too, sometimes.

3y/o: No, it’s a boy. Girls have long, pretty hair.

Me: Nope. It’s a girl. Is Nana a girl?

3y/o: Yes!

Me: Well, does Nana have short hair?

3y/o: Oh…

Quite often, these gender bending discussions have something to do with the colour pink.

At The Supermarket

3y/o: Can I have these lollies?

Me: Nope.

3y/o: Oh, okay. Because they’re blue. Only boys can have blue lollies.

Me [considering whether to let this go, just this once, for the sake of peace, deciding no]: Actually, girls can eat blue lollies. And boys can eat pink lollies. Anyone can eat any lollies they want. [I decide I’d better stop there.]

Or else she has gotten gender roles so completely wrong that it’s laughable:

3y/o: Ha ha! I farted like Dad! I’m a boy!

Me: Er, no, actually girls fart just as much as boys. [Though probably not quite as loudly and proudly.]

So, as you can see, I go out of my way to mow down gender stereotypes. The preschool is doing a good job too, and they’ve been making a concerted effort to challenge the girls vs boys culture, which frankly, has only gotten worse over the last ten years. I blame Princess Culture and the pinkification of everything.

Anyhow, I must be doing a great job.

This is one of my favourite kids' movies.

This morning I watched Monster House with the 3y/o (for the umpteenth time) when we get to the part where the boys (Chowder and DJ) are trying to impress Jenny:

Chowder: Well, hello there… 
DJ: [to Jenny] This is… Chowder… 
Chowder: Charles, to the ladies… 
Jenny: [interrupting] Um, Jenny Bennett. Two-term class president at Westbrook Prep. 
DJ: That’s a tough school to get into. 
Chowder: Yeah, I got in but decided not to go. 
Jenny: It’s a girls’ school. 

At which point, the 3y/o turns to me and says, “But boys can go to girls’ schools too, Mum!”

Indeed. Boys can do anything, right! This confusing life!

City Living

a big city

Do you live in the city, in the surburbs or in the sticks?

I grew up in a mixture of medium sized towns and the smallish city of Christchurch. Since childhood, I have lived in Yokohama, Fukuoka, another small New Zealand city of 60,000, London, Melbourne and now… finally… back in the sticks. We live in a small village of about 3,000 people, just outside the raging metropolis of Canberra.

By the way, Canberra is the capital of Australia. Lots of non-Australians mistakenly believe that Sydney must be the capital of Australia because, well, there’s a lot more news about Sydney. But no, it’s Canberra.

In Australia, when you turn on the evening news, you will learn that ‘Canberra’ is synonymous with ‘government’, ‘politics’, and ‘public service’. In fact, you’ll often hear a reporter ask, ‘So, what’s the news from Canberra’? and by ‘Canberra’, they mean ‘parliament house’.

Because it’s widely believed that nothing else ever happens in Canberra. Ever.

I’m not going to refute that claim, because I don’t want the rest of the country to up sticks and move here. We have enough trouble with escalating house prices and water management as it is.

Also, I like living in the country. I say that after having test driven some of the largest cities for myself.

There can only be one reason why people like to live in cities: Breathing car exhaust can calm you (but also kill you), brought to you by Jezebel.

No, seriously, there’s a newish study from Urban Affairs Review which has found that people are happiest when they live near good amenities such as libraries, cultural activities and shops. That means cities. This study also uncovered a few slightly surprising results, like how the beauty of a city has nothing to do with its cleanliness.

Over at GOOD, it is said that Most Americans Want A Walkable Neighbourhood, Not A Big House, which makes me wonder how Australians feel about this. New houses in Australia are now bigger on average than new houses in America, or so I heard on the news recently.

All of this makes me wonder, what is it about a personality which makes some of us crave the city and some of us opt for the country? Is it an age thing, an extrovert/introvert thing, a childhood experience thing?

And do most people actively choose between one or the other, as this family has done? I’m inclined to think that most people haven’t so much made a decision to live where they do, but are obliged to live where they do due to circumstance.