My 7-year-old son has a wonderful group of friends and classmates, and much to my delight, he seems to get along equally with both boys and girls.
Sure, he loves getting together with his boy pals to run around, play superheros, make tons of noise, and play all sorts of other games that little boys across the board seem to love.
When it comes to hanging out with the girls, however, he calms down, gets creative, and uses his imagination in a different way than he does when he's with his boy friends. Or at least that's the case when he plays with one little girl in our neighborhood in particular -- who has been one of his best buddies since he was a toddler.
Every week, he and this little girl play together before and after school. It always makes me so happy and warms my heart to see them continue to develop the bond and friendship they've had since they met at a birthday party at the age of 13 months.
They play hide and seek. They play "restaurant." They play "airplane." They set up scavenger hunts around the house. And sometimes, they simply sit and read or draw together while engaging in the cutest little conversations I've ever eavesdropped on overheard.
And even though I hope and pray every day that they'll remain friends as they continue to grow up, go to prom together in high school, and then get married one day so I never have to worry about spending the holidays with crappy in-laws (too carried away?), I know that there will probably come a point in the not-so-near future when it just "isn't cool" to be good friends with members of the opposite sex.
I can't remember exactly when I started hanging out primarily with girls instead of boys when I was a kid, but I know it was at some point during elementary school. And it wasn't just me -- it was pretty much every kid in my class. The girls stayed with the girls and the boys stayed with the boys and nobody really crossed the line again until we hit middle school.
And even though I know preferring one sex over the other is a natural phase to move on to -- I really, really hope my son doesn't do it, or at least not anytime soon. I can't even bear the thought of this beautiful little girl coming over to play one day and him acting like he's not interested. When and if it does happen, it will break my heart for sure.
But I guess there's not much I can really do, other than remind him how much fun he has with all of his friends, regardless of whether they are boys or girls. I certainly don't want to stop him from growing up, changing, and developing different interests, but at the same time, I hope to be able to encourage him to be friendly to everyone and treat others as he would like to be treated by them.
(Ahh. The Golden Rule. Never gets old.)
Has your child started preferring playing with one sex over the other? At what age did you notice the shift?
Image via Mary Fischer