Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Boys and Girls

I remember telling my mother, shortly after Luke was born, that I didn't feel like I was connecting with him in the same way I had with Lily. Her response was "that's because he's a boy". I couldn't figure out how being a boy would make much difference--he was, after all, a newborn baby--my baby--and other than the obvious I didn't see many differences between the sexes at that point. I found myself thinking about the issue again the other day, as I realized that I sense that same difference in my relationship with Mark as compared to how I remember feeling with big sister Esther just a couple of years ago. Talking with my sister it occurred to me that part of what I am sensing really might lie in innate male/female differences, specifically differences in social interaction. Both Lily and Esther, even as tiny newborns, were very social--they would meet your eyes, mimic facial expressions, initiate and maintain social interactions from the very beginning. Mark isn't like that. He will meet my eyes, but I can't keep his attention, even by talking or making faces at him (he was a bit intrigued by my repeatedly sticking my tongue out at him...) When Mark is awake, his eyes and his head are always moving, scanning the room. He can track motion--I tried moving one hand slowly back and forth in front of his face, and he would follow it first with his eyes, then by turning his head. I remember reading somewhere (maybe in James Dobson's book on raising boys?) that boys' eyes are physically different from girls--they have more rod cells, which are particularly good at detecting motion. That might have something to do with little boys' interest in everything that moves--balls, cars, airplanes, etc. Girls have more cone cells, which are sensitive to color and texture...

Just some intriguing thoughts to keep me busy while I enjoy my baby :-)


Amber said...

Wow, I never knew that stuff about the eyes. How interesting!

If I ever am blessed with a girl, maybe I'll notice the difference. But with nothing to compare my boys to, I just can't tell!

But I have another theory. I connected with my first quickly, probably because he was my first and I was so glad to have him out after a horrific labor. It took me a long time (many weeks actually) to connect with my second. He was a fantastic baby, and so easy going. But the connection wasn't there. I guessed that maybe it was because it had been just me and the older child for so long, that we had a history and it would take awhile for the bond to strengthen with the second. Then third child came along, and my bond with him was instantaneous and so completely special. I've told many people in the last 8 months that there is just something so sweet about a third baby. I don't have a fourth yet, but I'll be curious to see what it's like with that one. Maybe there's something more than gender in the mix.

Karene said...

Yes, this is interesting...now that I've got my first girl, I'm thinking about it and I haven't noticed the differences you mention in your post. She seems to me to be quite similar to my boys as a baby (aside from the cute girly clothes and hair bows). Maybe I'll have to pay more attention and see if I notice the differences you mention!