Saturday, May 13, 2006

Blue Thunder

I heard a caller on the radio yesterday talking about how people force gender roles onto boys and girls. You know: moms teach girls to play with dolls and dads teach boys to tackle each other.

This lady obviously has not been to one of Blue Thunder's soccer games.

That's the name of the soccer team I coach. It's made up of six boys ages 4, 5 and 6, and one little 3 year old who runs around saying "poopie head." I bet you can't guess who that is. He's on the practice team.

Don't get me wrong. My team falls into their gender roles perfectly. But they got no help from me, Mrs. Coach.

For instance, I didn't teach the players to bond by conking each other in the head with the soccer ball. But that's how they deepened their friendship. I didn't coach them to make a dog pile at the end of the game. But that's how they celebrated a possible victory (In this league, you don't keep score.) I never told them to get a 50 foot running start on their kick-ins. But that's their strategy.

Boys are just more active. More rambunctious. More...boyish.

They're different from the girls we play in this coed league. Not better or worse. Just different. For instance, the boys crash into each other like magnets. Today, two players were locked in a football-style hug for the kickoff. Trying to pull them apart was like separating Siamese twins. The girl players, on the other hand, do not appear to be magnetic.

Also, when the girls daydream, they turn cartwheels. The boys, on the other hand, turn up hunks of dirt, finding big juicy worms to dangle in each others' faces.

It's been a relief to me to see the energy level of Johnny's teammates. I always thought my kids were a little on the wild side. But now I see that they're typical boys. I tell them to give me a hug, and they tackle me. I choose a cute story about a bear family and they want to read about Superman or dinosaurs instead. It goes without saying that they act out the book by flying off the couch or roaring.

Believe me, I tried to teach them to like dolls and sleep with teddy bears. They tossed the dolls like footballs and wanted to curl up next to their Tonka trucks at night instead.

I tried to teach them to converse with each other, but they thought I said to collide with each other.

Eventually, I got tired of forcing the gender stereotype out of them. What's so bad about being a little wild anyway? Sure, they'll have to set aside their dreams of being successful library patrons. Or those people who spraypaint themselves gold and stand totally still for hours, pretending to be statues for tips. But they'll make their way somehow.

Don't get me wrong. All this gender role talk serves its purpose. People used to think girls had no place on the athletic field and women had no place in high paying jobs. Boys didn't cry and dads didn't stay home to raise the children. Now it's a little easier for boys and girls, men and women to do these things. Boys and girls both get a shot at victory on the soccer field or any other field they want to try. It's just that they follow different playbooks.

Blue Thunder's book says, "Tackle!'"

2 Comments:

Anonymous mom said...

Johnny was brave after a brutal face slam and a few tears to get right back in the game. Go Blue Thunder!

8:47 PM  
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