Adam Bird

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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Differences Between Pink & Blue

Phoebe

Over the past two weeks Mrs B has been asking me some rather strange questions, mainly about what we should buy Phoebe for her first birthday. Questions that, at first might not seem odd at all, but for me highlights another difference in nearly a year of subtle nuances I’ve noticed between the sexes. How has having a girl in the family been so different from having a boy?

Each and every one of us are of course different, our characters and personalities define us and make us who we are. Phoebe and Oliver may share the same genetic building blocks and at times scare us as parents with looks and the odd stare that give the impression that they are very much the same person. But throughout Phoebe’s first year there have been moments when I’ve felt uncomfortable not being able to handle certain situations as I’ve not been able to relate to the female point of view - or have suddenly realised to myself, “Ooh, she doesn’t like that, it must be a girl thing”.

The first, big, noticeable difference came right at the very beginning, on an anatomical level. I’ve always wanted to be a ‘hands-on’ father, doing the late night bottle feeds and changing the messy nappies, but I’ve never been comfortable with changing Phoebe. It sounds stupid, and totally obvious, but things are packaged very differently between pink and blue nappies. At least with a boy everything is familiar and positioned externally so that any mess is easily found and removed with a swish of a wet-wipe. With a girl you need to be a bit more evasive and make sure any spillages are not spread in the wrong direction. It has taken me a while to get used to the whole operation, but I’ll be much happier once she is running around fully potty trained!

There are other things, on the face of it that seem more obvious, silly things like playing “Boo”. With Oliver you could really make him jump and he’d laugh, with Phoebe you have to take it down a notch and not be so loud or else she cries. It might just be that Oliver is of a stronger constitution, but with him you could chuck him in the air and catch him with a big laugh whereas Phoebe has a look of terror on her face. Having said that, she isn’t entire fearless, she quite happily crawls around after my brother-in-laws dog, Donk, who is a ten stone rottweiler and nearly as tall as me - not that I’m entirely comfortable with that one either!

I know that my sister has noticed these differences a lot more than I have. She had three girls before her fourth, a boy came along. Despite a household of dolls, make-up and Edward Cullen posters, her boy naturally does the boy things that are part of the masculine code. Plays with mud, gets himself dirty and likes nothing better than kicking things around, football or his elder siblings, whatever is closest to hand (or foot).

Phoebe isn’t quite there yet, her personality is starting to come through, but she is still very much a baby with a babyish ideals. She is very much more affectionate that Oliver ever was, quite happy playing with the softer assortment of toys that she has available to her. Cuddling up to teddies and anything soft and tactile, cooing “ahh” as she does so. Which leads me to the blank look in response to Stephanies questions. What do we buy our daughter for her first birthday?

With Oliver it was easy, building blocks, cars, trucks, anything to do with football, things that I would have enjoyed, or still enjoy as a fully grown adult manchild. But until she says to me Daddy, I want this, or I want that, it is all very much guesswork on my part. I look online or through the argos catalogue and pick out things that are pink, purple, look ‘girlish’ and ‘cute’, but really what do I know? I’m just another useless male father looking at the world through naive, macho blue eyes.
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