Let Girls Be Girls
In the 70's when my first child was born parents were told to give the boys dolls and encourage the girls to play with trucks. I am convinced that the guy who dreamed that idea up had no children. only lab mice. Boys and girls think and problem solve differently. I could dig up the research to prove it, but it doesn't take a scientist to see the difference. Just live with a few children for any length of time.
One day, while pregnant (and big as a house) I was sitting on the couch with our two-year-old little boy. We were snuggling and talking when his face lit up. All aglow he looked at my round tummy and announced, "Ball! My ball!" Then, just as quickly, his little brow turned into a frown and his bottom lip pouted as he asked, "Mommy eat my ball?" He quickly climbed up the large mound and tried to open my mouth to retrieve his beloved ball.
Of course I assured him that this was not his ball, it was a baby. He didn't buy it. You could just hear his wheels turning as his little logical male brain reasoned, "Look at the facts: my ball has been missing for weeks, the woman has been eating everything in the house, you can practically see it right there, obvious conclusion. MY BALL!"
My girls have never been confused over babies. In fact, if you leave one of our little girls alone at the table too long Mr. Butter Knife will run off and marry Miss Fork and before you know it there are several baby spoons to tend to. It seems to me that there is a natural desire in little girls to love babies - baby puppies, baby kittens and even ugly plastic dolls that have lost most of their hair and have only one eye left that still shuts when it is laid down.
In our frantic search to end unwanted pregnancies have we taught our girls that babies are something terrible that happens to them if they are not protected? As a mother of six girls, two of whom are teenagers, I had to ask myself what are we teaching these future parents? In the drive to educate our youth about the consequences of teen pregnancy, schools have developed programs that have forced young girls to carry eggs, bags of flour, and electronic dolls. Are we training future mothers to be responsible loving parents, or just trying to scare them?
These electronic dolls are the worst attack on motherhood I can imagine. They give no smiles, giggles, kisses or hugs. It is these responses that are the survival of motherhood! The "mother" of this doll cannot gaze into her infant's eyes and marvel at this new life and wonder what she will be; there's no love exchanged. It is only a thing that makes noise at all hours that must have something shoved into it or it will "tell" that she is a "neglectful" mother and is reported.
With the best of intentions have we lost sight of the reason we don't want children giving birth to children? We want our children to marry first so they can share in the joys and heartaches of raising children together. Children are precious and deserve mothers who are willing to give their best in raising them. In all of our education I fear we have reduced a precious infant to the equivalent of an intruder that is threatening to ruin her life. How else can we explain the rashness of young mothers to kill their newborns?
I purpose we let the little boys have their trucks back. Let's give our little girls the most beautiful, precious doll we can find or make. Then when our little girl plays with her doll, encourage her to be a loving mother. Don't allow her to let her baby to be unkept. If you love her doll it will be even more precious to her.
Awhile back my eight year old Hannah came to me and said, "Mommy, I don't know what is wrong with Benny (her special doll). He just keeps crying all the time." "Well, honey," I said, "Have you been leaving him home a lot when you go play with friends?" She thought about it for a moment and confessed she had left him home a lot. I then shared with her that babies get very scared and lonely when they are not with their mothers. They need to be reassured that mommy is there. I suggested that she keep Ben with her everywhere she goes for the next couple of days and that she may not want to depend on a pacifier too much. That way she can be sure he is secure. She was excited and faithfully kept her precious baby boy at her side. He went in the car seat when we went to the store, and was carefully strapped in the shopping car.
In the course of her growing up Hannah may forget our little conversation. One day, when she is a real mommy she will be sure to face a fussy baby. I believe she will know by intuition what to do. I am confident because she has been in "mommy training" all her life and has learned to love.
Atwood, Illinois, USA
Mike and Rhonda are the blessed parents of nine children and one grandchild
so far - Chris and his wife Michelle and baby Michael, Jami and her husband
Jared who are expecting their first baby Summer 2000, Sarah 16, Kelly 15,
Chelsea 12, Hannah 9, Thomas 7, Daniel 5 and Emily 3.