During July and August Leta’s preschool held a weekly vehicle day where all the kids brought their bikes and tricycles and scooters to ride in chaotic circles through an empty parking lot for a couple of hours. Because I work from home I offered to be one of the volunteer parents who would be on hand to help control the madness. And madness it was, a lot of moaning and crashing and tiny four-year-old bodies landing flat on the concrete in fits. I remember one morning the parking lot looked like the bank of a river littered with the bodies of giant fish freshly plucked from the water, all flipping and seizing and trying to writhe their way back into the river. Except these fish could scream.
The most striking thing about the hours I spent with those kids, though, was the glaring difference in the way the boys and girls handled conflict. And I’m sure elementary school teachers see this every day, and certain families see this dynamic every morning over breakfast, but because I only have one child I was probably more amused than I should have been over what played out in front of me. If a boy felt wronged by his peer, he just started punching, sometimes landing blows in the face or the gut. But the girls? The girls were entirely verbal and far more sinister, saying things like, “Only babies ride princess bikes,” or my favorite, “I never liked you anyway.”
I’m just guessing here, but I’d say that those girls are going to be far more prepared than the boys in terms of handling interaction on the Internet.