At Viv’s 15-month check-up today, our pediatrician confirmed something about our child that we’ve suspected for a long time:
She’s a girl.
Running down a developmental checklist, the doctor nodded approvingly as I listed words Viv knows. “Animal sounds?” Yes. “Body parts?” Check. When Viv blurted out “elbow,” well, dare I say the doctor looked impressed.
Then things took a turn.
“Ok, gross motor skills. So Viv’s walking and running?” Um…not exactly. Occasional walking. Prefers crawling. Not yet familiar with running.
“Is she jumping?” No.
“Can she throw and catch a ball?” What? Am I supposed to be doing that with her? No. What?
Diagnosis: She’s a girl. And so is her mom.
The doctor wasn’t concerned about Viv’s apparent lack of coordination but said it wouldn’t hurt to get her into a gym class.
I’m certainly not worried from a development standpoint, but I do feel a bit badly about my role in all this. Why hadn’t it occurred to me to teach her how to throw a ball?
I’ve always considered myself a feminist. I marched on Washington for women’s rights. I voted for Hilary. And I was outraged when Mattel produced that talking Barbie programmed to pout, “Math class is tough.” I remember thinking, when I have a daughter, I will raise her without gender bias–free to be whoever she wants to be (thanks, Marlo Thomas).
But then Viv was born and there were all those adorable pink and purple outfits with matching hair bows. And she seems to really appreciate my operatic performances of Grease and A Chorus Line. I only put lip gloss on her that one time.
Theory and practice are not really lining up.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to engage Viv in “boy” activities. I got her a ball…
And I bought toy cars. You know what we love to do with cars?
We tickle each other’s backs with the wheels. It’s fantastic.
Left to her own devices, Viv will find the girliest possible activity and do that.
So you could say I’m just following my daughter’s lead – never a bad thing, right?
But the truth is, feminism aside, I’d much rather play dress-up and tea party than pretend I know what to do with trucks or sports. Maybe Viv senses my lack of enthusiasm. Maybe this is a job for Daddy.
Of course, when I told Dave the doctor wants him to start playing catch with Viv, he sounded so perplexed: “But she likes it when we pretend to feed her stuffed animals and put hats on them.” See, it’s a girl world–we just live in it.
I’m sure there are other ways for Viv to perfect her gross motor skills, like stirring cookie batter or carrying my purse. Are cheerleader pom-poms a reasonable substitute for balls? Running and jumping are all well and good, but perhaps Viv would rather move her body learning the Electric Slide? Whatever, I’m on it.
We’re going to ace that next pediatrician’s appointment. Girl power.