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Raising Girls not Boys – What’s the real difference?

As far as I can tell, the primary difference between raising girls and boys is parents of girls have to rise an hour earlier than parents of boys thanks to the double-fem whammy: braids and tights.

Parents of sons, imagine this: You’re running late for both school and work, your child already is whining a persistent and migraine-inducing B-flat, your car needs gas or to have a three-inch layer of ice scraped off the windshield, but before you can crawl another inch along the morning-train you first have to squeeze both your overtired child’s legs and feet into a tight sheath of man-made fabric while said child writhes and squeals: “I’ve got a wedgie! My feet feel funny! The crotch is too low!”

Imagine trying on no less than three of these multi-colored torture devices (the ones you just paid $12 each for) and your crying angry child forcing her foot through the seam of each and every one, then pulling from the laundry the oldest dirtiest pair of tights she has – the same pair she’s been wearing for nine days straight because “Mommy these are the only ones that feel good.” Not only that, but they’re a floral print and she’s wearing a plaid skirt, but really that’s the least of it.

Approximate running time: 20 minutes.

Now your daughter wants braids – not just one or two, but three braids.

“I want one braid on this side, one on that side, and one in the middle. Each one has an elastic at the bottom and an elastic on the top, then you put them all in a ponytail.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m a lesbian. I wear neither stockings nor tights. I blow my hair dry in front of the car heater. I haven’t made a braid since I was a Native American (of course I called myself an Indian) one Halloween in the mid-1960′s (okay, it wasn’t Halloween, it was the entire month of April, 1969).

“If you want braids you have to brush your teeth and put your shoes on. You have to be all ready to go before we do braids.”

Go, go, go! You have to be ready to GO.

So you put down your new bag of Fair Trade French Roast, let go of the fact you were only five to eight minutes late and more or less calm this morning, thinking you might actually be able to get your child to school without becoming tense, only now it’s looking like you’re going to be eight to ten minutes late, and double-digit late is a whole other thing from single-digit late. Double-digit late at work and school always makes you tense, and you recently made a pact with yourself not to get tense on the way to school. You found you were getting tense when you were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, when your coffee got cold, or for no damn reason at all.

You found out because one morning as you gripped the steering wheel and grit your teeth, a small voice from the back seat whispered, “Mommy you’re tense,” and it made you feel like a monster – a frowning, brow-furrowing, drill sergeant of a supposed peace-loving lesbo.

So you told yourself, “Try not to be tense anymore, just try,” and you thought you were going to be able to pull it off this morning, but then there were the tights and now the freaking BRAIDS.

And here’s the clincher, if you were straight you’d say no to the whole time-sucking deal. You’d say something like: “If you don’t like the tights, wear pants. There’s no time for braids.”

But because you’re a lesbian – okay, this lesbian – you’re thrilled your daughter wants to wear a skirt and put her hair in braids. It means being raised by two moms is not a fashion death-sentence.

To make matters worse, over cocktails last summer your sister – the mother of two boys – confessed getting them from bed to school takes only 18 minutes, that they care not an iota what they wear, and that when they had lice she shaved both their heads. As your daughter brushes her teeth with a princess toothbrush, you imagine your sister already on the road, both boys buckled in the back seat, their short hair combed and parted. You guess they’re running early, that they’ll probably have time to stop for coffee. You can almost smell a latte as your daughter appears with a brush, comb, and 13 different elastics.

Brush, comb, part, braid – braid comes out. Brush, comb, part, braid – child moves and braid comes out again. Child yells, “Mommy be gentle.”

“I am being gentle.”

“No you’re not.”

Brush, comb, part, elastic.

“You seem tense.”

Brush, comb, part. Repeat two more times.

Approximate running time: 20 minutes.

In the car your daughter pulls out all three braids and makes herself a ponytail.

So if ever you feel compelled to spend $600 on child-rearing books to find out the difference between raising boys and girls, save your dime; it’s braids and tights. Put them together and you get close to an hour in which you could’ve been asleep. Take the fatigue that lost sleep earned you and look in the mirror. Before you gasp, take a look at your beaming daughter with her dirty tights and that farkakta ponytail and give her a kiss.

Now speed to work and try not to get tense.

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