February 6th, 2006

getting by


I'm almost done with the lj prompts I got from you folks last month when I was staying up all night for the EEG. Wow, do you ask a lot of questions! Much appreciated.

So. Somebody said, "I'd like to hear what you think is good for little boys."

Regular beatings until morale improves?

Umm. Seriously, I think that it's good for little boys to have people who are willing to offer them a range of interests to explore, but are also willing to put outer boundaries down firmly to keep them safe. They should learn practical skills but also be allowed to dream. They should know that their thoughts are valuable but also learn to hear other people's ideas. They should learn how to express their feelings without using them as weapons against other people. They should have a chance to work at things that are important to them and a chance to play at random silliness. They should be taught how to have healthy bodies, especially with a sense of moderation and balance, but they should also be taught to treat their own and other people's infirmities with calm and practical compassion. They should have parents they can trust and rely upon but also other adults who will be there for them, too.

Also they should have dinosaur toys and dragon toys and lots and lots of books.

So, basically the same things as are good for little girls. I'm not sure what I would do to differentiate, because it would depend on the specific kid. I don't deal with A Little Boy, I deal with Robin, or Noah, or Sean. And gender sometimes matters very much, but until you know the kid and the situation, you can't always say in which ways it will.

For example, my cousin Joe is 12 and plays the flute. This is not very common for a boy his age. But unless I got to know my cousin better, I couldn't tell you which of the following possible scenarios was the case:
--he is a little "ladies' man" and takes full advantage of having sectionals with a bunch of girls
--he is shy but cute, so all the girls swoon over him as "sensitive" even though he doesn't say much to any of them
--the other kids tease him and call him names they consider derogatory for playing a "girl instrument"
--the other kids look askance at this trait, but no one cares enough to say anything
--the other kids look askance at this trait but estimate that he could beat the crap out of them if they said anything about it
--the subculture in which he goes to school is fairly gender-blind where music is concerned
--he is comfortable being "just one of the girls" and bantering with them in that fashion
--he hates playing the flute and only does it because his parents make him, and he makes this clear to anyone who comes anywhere near him

The point is, unless I talk to the kid, I don't know. Gender might not play into his experience. It might. But the ways in which it might matter to him are not binary, and trying to deal with them as a generalization is not very useful.