Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday Thinking—Boy or Girl?

I clearly remember asking my mom how people could tell boys and girls apart. Mind you, I’d been thinking about it for days before I asked her. She mumbled and then said, “Why don’t you ask your dad?”

Being the seventh child, I imagine Mom felt she’d taught the lesson her share and then some by the time I asked, so I let it drop and did as she suggested. That night at the supper table I asked Dad how people told boys and girls apart. He said, “If they’re wearing a bow or not.”

I asked, “But how do they know whether or not to put a bow in their hair?

He responded, “By the color of blanket they’re in.”

I asked, “But how do they know which color of blanket to put them in?”

He replied, “Because the doctor told them.”

“But how does the doctor know?”

“The nurse told him.”

“But how did the nurse know?”

I remember this event very clearly, when you are the target of people’s laughter, you don’t forget easily. Dad paused and then finally said, “Because boys have handles and girls don’t.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” I’m a quick learner, I am. And all the kids at the table laughed.

I’ve been reading a fascinating and informative book that Ty got for Christmas entitled “Why Gender Matters.” My sister, Marcia, who teaches educational psychology, sent it to him. Ande had taken my sister’s class and had already shared some of the book with me: “Did you know that most road-kill animals are male? It’s because males are much bigger risk-takers than females.” “Did you know that boys draw verbs and girls draw nouns?” Having heard these bits from Ande, I immediately began reading the book when Ty opened it, then asked him if I could finish it and send it to him. (I don’t normally commandeer the kids’ presents, but . . .)

The book is very telling and informative. It discusses the brain structure of males and females and notes the differences. It emphasizes that teaching for the gender is imperative if you want to be able to help children successfully process information. For instance, the author, Dr. Leonard Sax, explains the difference in male-female eye structure. Teaching us about rods and cones, M cells and P cells, Dr. Sax, writes that the P cells and M cells have very different jobs. The M cells are motion detectors and the P cells explain what it is the eye sees.” Males have more M cells while females have more P cells, meaning we literally see the world differently. It explains why boys prefer to draw motion in their pictures (verbs) and choose colors like black, gray, and blue; while little girls are more perceptive of objects (nouns) and choose bright colors. One study gave babies a choice between looking at a simple mobile or the face of a live young woman. The female babies were interested in the face of the woman while the boy babies preferred the mobile.

The inner ears are also different in males and females, as well as where feelings are stored in the brain and the brains ability to access them. In short, there is so much more than handles to distinguish boys from girls and this book teaches them. I have learned a great deal reading it and recommend it to anyone that is raising or teaching a male or female. In fact, I sent an e-mail to the kids after one chapter saying that I thought we should all read it and then discuss it. I admitted, “We goofed in some ways raising you and by the grace of God were brilliant in others according to this author.” I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking about this information . . . I'm still sorting it, but have begun to implement some of it.


Alisa said...

I am checking now to see if our library has it and put a reserve out for it.
Funny funny story- I love your story telling!

Becky said...

Alisa's comment is *exactly* what I was just going to type--you've got me hooked on the book already!

Marie said...

This book sounds facinating! I've got such a nice long list of books I want to read, and this one definiatly makes the grade. But how will I ever get to them all?

Jill said...

I'm going to look into reading this book as well, it sounds fascinating and a little bit frightening.

Kathy said...

First of all, I want to read the book and second that explains our different driving skills!!!!! Spoken as the new driver in the family as we navigate the terrific traffic in the greater Seattle area!
Oh, I have been thinking about your Tuesday Posts and this is what I have come up with. Your personal family history stories, I know you do a post on memories, but I think you ancestors stories would be fun to read and be so rewarding to post.

Samantha said...

Dang. As a mother of boy/girl twins, after reading this post I'm almost positive I've been doing it wrong! I've got to check out this book. Hilarious story.

michelle said...

This is so interesting. I knew our brains were different, but even our eyes?? Incredible.

Lucy said...

It sounds very interesting. I'm determined to do my boys well by respecting their gender, but growing up in a household of girls, I'm not sure I know. It looks like a must read for sure.

Mindy said...

Jane, thanks for the info. I am always looking for a good book to read.

Alisa said...

Got the book on Friday and read until I just could not keep my eyes open any longer. It is so interesting. I LOVE it. I think its one I want to buy. Thanks for sharing this title!

Barb said...

Jaclyn was just telling me all about M cells and P cells and boys and girls. She's still in bed (as far as I know) so I can't confirm it, but I suspect she's been reading your blog.
I'm putting this book on hold at the library.