I get asked from time to time if Katrina shows signs of being a girly-girl: princesses, pink, dress-up, the whole bit. Usually I say it's too early to tell, and clearly the boy-influences around here are heavy. At what point will a girl-stereotype nature emerge above all the testosterone around here?
Katrina is almost 3, and she's always had influence from other girls around her at preschool and daycare. I noticed at the aviation museum last weekend that there were other girls in the play area were sitting at a craft table, drawing. Not all the girls, and from time to time a boy would go there too, but Katrina had no interest in sitting and coloring when there were airplanes to rock on or push around.
My niece and nephew engage in a lot of imaginary play together, making up stories and lands and characters. Maybe Katrina's young for that, though I know my nephew was already involved in an elaborate fantasy world at 3. But I almost never see that sort of play between her and her brothers. That could be because they're not into it either, but I think Julian would likely engage in it if she started it. And imaginary play can easily done by oneself, and I don't see a lot of that from her. She does engage in nurturing behavior -- putting blankets over stuffed animals and such, but it's mostly "functional" play. She definitely has opinions about what to wear, and does many things that are more typical of girls.
But I don't see a lot of making up stuffed animal families and stories and names. Instead, this is how she plays with her brothers -- wrestling.
This isn't exactly peer play, as Julian takes a whole lot of abuse that he'd never accept from Gabriel. And of course, all pairs of siblings do stuff like this sometimes, some more than others -- these two are on the "more" side.
(Actually, I wish the boys could wrestle this benignly, if there's even a fraction of this contact it turns bloody.)
After nap today, Katrina joined Julian in his room to -- what else -- play Legos. He was building a house, she was building an "engine."
Later, out of a wide variety of books to read, including one she'd chosen herself out of the library, she instead sat and read "Military Dune Buggies," a book that the boys had picked from the library.
When I picked her up from the Y today, she was pushing a car around. Sometimes, she'd play with their plastic kitchen, other times, musical instruments. If there was a little wagon to sit on and push around, she would plant herself on it and not get up.
Clearly, she's surrounded by boy influences, and not just from her brothers. There's nothing I'd like more than to skip the girly dress-up princess stuff, and absorb ourselves in cars, trains, airplanes and motorcycles. The closest she'll get to learning about manicures from me is that chlorine bleach is the best way to get the smell of gasoline off your hands. And her father is a typical guy this way too -- some men are into more gender-neutral things like drama or art, but not here. So there's little girl-influence at home.
Nature or nurture? I think it'd take a strong nature to overcome all the boy-interest influences around here (and you know what I mean, of course some girls are into trains, and some boys are into pink, like Julian, but on average, trains and motorcycles are more boy things). But Katrina isn't lacking a strong nature, and if she wants to delve into the princess thing -- especially to rebel -- she will. Girls will be girls no matter what their parents or brothers are like -- and good for them. But so far, despite the tendency to see what you want to see, I truly don't see a lot of that.
[ p.s. addendum: This morning at preschool we walked into a perfect test case: 4
girls were sitting at a table coloring, and one boy was playing with blocks at
the opposite end of the room. (The stereotype on display!) Katrina took stock of the situation, and joined the boy playing with blocks. She does "girl things" of course, and the pink-princess stuff could hit any day, but so far, the "girly-girl" thing doesn't fit. ]