Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails

Today I had the pleasure of accompanying my son to the Gardiner Museum with his kindergarten class. It was so much fun and I love that I get the opportunity to tag along and volunteer on these field trips.  It’s nice to really spend time and get to know each kid in his class.

There is one classmate who we’ve been hearing a lot about lately from my son.  Let’s call him “Bob”.  My son tells me that Bob makes fun of him and hits him.  He says to me “mommy, Bob punched me in the heart”.  OK. He is four and this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but still, what is going on here?  He tells me this at least twice a week.  The other day he said that Bob told him “everyone is going to kick your butt because you like princesses”.  Ahh, Frozen.  Yes, my son LOVES this movie (along with Cars and Up and Flushed Away.)  And I love that he loves it.  But I can’t believe that he is already being made fun of for the things he is interested in at age 4.

I am sure this type of behavior is totally normal and this is only the beginning.  And I know that at anytime, my own kid could be the “Bob”.  Still, when you’re the mom, it totally sucks to hear that your kid is being picked on.

I’ve talked to the teacher and she assures me that he is not being “punched”. Hit and pushed, maybe  There are other kids that poor Bob has issues with too and the teacher is trying to work with him on this.

Things I say to our son:
“You make sure you tell your teacher right away when this happens.”
“We need to help Bob learn how to be kind to people, so if you are kind, he will learn from you.”
“Tell him “NO” in a strong voice when he hits or pushes you and then go and get your teacher right away.”

What I really want to say:
“Don’t take it!”
“Hit him back if he doesn’t stop hitting you!”

Obviously, these statements are very wrong for so many reasons.

My husband tells him “If he pushes you or hits you and won’t stop, you can protect yourself. You are not a punching bag”.

Sometimes as a parent I have no idea what the right thing to say is.  This is one of those situations.

In my group at the Gardiner Museum, I had three girls and three boys (including my son).  The three boys were wild and jumping all over the place at most times. They were bumping up against the glass cabinets in the museum while the girls were taking their time looking through the glass carefully.  The girls were neat and pleasant and did whatever I told them to do.  I was amazed at the difference between these boys and girls.  It made me think of this poem:

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

We love them both equally as much and I think they’re both made of everything nice, but man, do those boys cause some trouble!

Do you think boys or girls are easier to raise??


5 thoughts on “Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails

  1. Well, being the mother of three girls, I can say that there were many days the little girls were NOT sugar and spice!! LOL! Now, having three grandsons…mmmm – some days I’ll take the boys, and some days not! Same for the girls! But truly, boy or girl, they are all special. And I think you’re handling ‘Bob’ correctly! Not good for them to hit back, but it sure is tough not to do it!


  2. I “see” this difference in behaviour all the time at school…girls who listen, boys who seem unable to listen. BUT, when I really look at the kids I teach (grade 2/3, 6, 7, 8) I can tell you that for every boy who is a bully, there is a girl who is equally just as mean. The bottom line, from my observations, is that we continue to divide the genders into specific modes of behaviour. Females still have the expectations to be “sugar and spice,” and that’s why they develop very sly and sneaky ways of hurting other people. Males are allowed to be more “aggressive,” and that’s why their anger is expressed in more physical ways. I strongly believe that this is a learned behaviour, and it is first developed at home. Sure, media plays a HUGE role of influence, but parents do have some control of that too.

    I feel that there are many parents out there with limited knowledge and skill…who simply don’t take the time to learn the latest data on child rearing…and their children develop certain unwanted behaviours. I always say, behind every bully, stands a bully, and wonder which parent at home is modelling this behaviour (we all have seen the “LINDA” video). Finally, inherited temperament also has to be considered; we are animals after all. Quite often after meeting the parents of our students, we say “the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree!”


  3. It is definitely a question I ask myself all the time as a daughter with two sisters, and a mother with two boys – and I still don’t have an answer.


  4. I love that I have two little girls right now…but talk to me in a few years when I’m dealing with hormones and I am sure I’ll be wishing we had boys!


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