Sometimes kids say things that jar you out of your world. Alexis did exactly that while trick-or-treating last week. She didn't mean to interrupt my reality; it just sort of happened.
"Mom, people are talking to me differently because they think I"m a boy."
At first I thought she was wrong. People couldn't possibly think she was a boy just because she was wearing a tuxedo. But then I listened a bit more carefully. I could hear it, too. It wasn't any particular word. It was just ... different.
Most of it was subtle.
Some of it was a bit more overt.
All of it gave me pause.
Why speak differently to a 9 year-old boy than a 9 year-old girl? Why use words like "hello, young man" instead of "hello, pretty princess?"
I mean, really. They're very different statements, but one was used to replace the other. I could hear it when other kids approached the same person. For what it's worth, one of the "pretty princesses" was dressed as a waitress. There was nothing particularly "pretty" or even remotely "princess" about her costume. She was just a girl wearing a dress.
Just like Alexis.
Words that implied strength, toughness, and maturity were used with words like "sir" and "gentleman."
Alexis loved it. She felt that it confirmed that she was pulling off a convincing costume.
I wasn't so sure. More importantly, it made me wonder if I do the same thing. Do I speak different to boys than girls? I'm still working on the answer to that.