The other day, M and K were playing with a new set of Star Wars space ships that a friend had given to us. He was in one room, preparing the battle. I noticed her on the couch, quietly talking to herself. And there, on the couch, she had one ship in her lap, with a green army man moving back and forth over it. “Whatcha doing?” I asked. “He’s cleaning the ship,” she replied sweetly, “I’m the cleaning station.”
When I found out that we were having a girl for our second baby, it was a bit bittersweet for me. I wanted a girl–wanted one so badly that I was sure that the ultrasound tech made a mistake, to which she identified with drawings how she could tell for sure. But I also already had a son, and a house with a massive bedroom perfect for sharing, and I wanted them to be so very close. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that separate genders would somehow separate everything else.
I was wrong. As I often say, it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. But I am so very happy that I was wrong.
My kids are best friends. They have played together constantly since K began to play. They watch out for each other, work together, get grumpy when the other is busy. They share everything, and play almost everything together. But they are different, sure enough. K took to the baby doll I’d given to M, who barely acknowledged it. M refused the princess dresses, though to be fair K sometimes pretends they are Jedi princess dresses. And while both build with Legos, M usual has some sort of battle ship, while K prefers to create houses and stables and gardens. Same toys, same play, different results.
I’m not thrilled she’s the cleaning station, just like I’m not thrilled sometimes that their play has such gender-prescribed themes, despite my good intentions otherwise. Maybe it was that mindset, the one that said they were different, that landed us here, or maybe they really are different, this boy and this girl. It’s a pot I’m not likely to stir–not when I have real pots begging to be washed. But I love that they worked that out, in spite of whatever I imagined, and opened up my imagination as well.