When little girls play…
When little girls play it sounds a lot like the preparations for a birthday party…at first. They giggle, talk over each other, and raise their voices in excitement as they dedicate their time and energy into setting up. All toys and/or supplies must be dragged out, inspected, agreed upon, and then argued over. Expectations need to be raised out of reach before talks of playing can begin.
If the playmate is a sister, the occasions when they get along will be some of the best of your life. Even though you really don’t have anything to do with it, you will feel like you do. On the flip side, if the playmate is a sister, once the games and/or toys are set up, one girl will become anxious to play with them, and the other girl will become anxious that even the breath of her sister in that direction will ruin everything. Thus will begin the repeat play of whining, whimpering, shock, hurt feelings, pretend hurt feelings, pretend bodily harm to justify screams because hurt feelings were deemed pretend, bossing, tattling, demands for unnecessary parental action, and the click of the bathroom lock, followed the realization that no one knows where Mommy is.
If the playmate is a friend, the sounds differ. Generally, as girls get to know each other the dominant of the two takes charge. A third girl is absolutely off limits at this juncture, unless the mother wants a “grown-up drink” in the locked bathroom before the playdate ends. The better friends the girls become, the more natural give-and-take appears, and more clean-up is required. They will play for hours if you let them make a mess. (It is a small price to pay.) Third friends are permitted. Maybe even four. Little siblings are often invited to play. This is the sign of true friendship. It doesn’t happen often. Foster it. Feed it cookie dough. Let it paint with the real paints. Love it.
When little boys* play…
When little boys play they shriek, they holler, they yell so loud their little voices warble and crack. To the untrained ear, one might think it necessary to call the police. Sometimes, especially if you live in a townhouse, your neighbors might feel compelled to call social services…the banging, the bumping, the clunking of crumbling plaster bits raining between the walls. Surely, someone must be bloodied and dying over there.
We call this “game” war, or ninja massacre, or alien invasion. Boys don’t usually think too hard about what it’s called…they just carry it out. Usually it involves blowing something up, tumbling and rolling down stairs or off a bed or the back of the couch while dodging a spray of bullets. It most definitely involves smothering each other with pillows, blankets, your own bodyweight…whatever’s handy. Without question it involves hitting, banging, smacking, flicking, the hurling of objects at things that will most definitely break, such as glass coffee tables, picture windows, mirrors, priceless family heirlooms, noses, teeth, and skulls.
A boy’s inside voice is about 10 decibels above normal register, so boys’ playing sounds very similar to what it sounds like when your husband watches the battle scenes from Saving Private Ryan in surround sound. When boys “play fight” it isn’t really “play”. It’s real. They really are trying to kill each other, but just for fun. That’s why the screams are so bloodcurdling. But if you are to become the mother of boys you must learn to decipher which screams indicate blood, and which indicate a crushed ego. All of them are bloodcurdling if you are a woman…but only some require your immediate attention, which usually is synonymous with medical attention.
So as a general rule, what should you listen for as your boys pummel each other to death in good fun? If you hear a reverberating symphony of “eeek”s and “aaaaahhhh”s and “noooooo”s and “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM”s. Pay no mind. Continue cooking dinner, vacuuming, what have you. Let them settle the score between themselves. It’s safe to say someone just got their feelings hurt.
If you hear a resounding thud…followed by a brief lull, then a scream so shrill your hair stands on end…put down the spatula, and bring a dish towel (to slow the bleeding), and tell your husband to start the car. You are going out for stitches.
When little girls and little boys play together?
When little girls and little boys play together, their games incorporates super heroes, guns, beheading enemies with weapons made out of kiddie chainsaws and bubble wands, and Baby Alice, AKA Spider Baby (for assimilation purposes and because she now shoots out spiders, even tarantulas). Shrieking, screaming, good manners, concern, and hollering (at evil foes, not each other), are all common sounds.
When little girls and little boys play together, it is like a perfectly choreographed dance for two. You, as number three, will only mess it up. Stand back and butt out. Give no indication of how excited you are by the way they play together. A mother’s stamp of approval can be deadly.
Keep an ear out for that thud, though. Girls thud, too.
And it’s just as bad.
*PS: I don’t pretend to know anything about how little boys play. They scare me, so as a rule I stay as far from them as possible. Birdy, my childhood BFF (and mother of three boys) joined me in this post.
© 2012 CEK & LBG. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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