Tuesday 16 March 2010

Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

The old rhyme that distinguishes girls and boys seems to bear some truth in our household. Yesterday when we were weeding the herb bed I observed in Garden Boy a very different approach to gardening than that of his sister. Garden Girl concentrates on her task with a furrowed brow. She listens carefully as we explain to her the processes of sowing, planting and growing and asks relevant questions which reveal how much she is trying to understand what we are telling her. She will intently watch what other people do and when she feels ready will have a go herself but is cautious and will not be cajoled into starting a task until she is confident she knows what she is doing.

Garden Boy on the other hand will listen only for a short period before trying to make us giggle. He won't allow too much serious business and when he thinks he has listened long enough he will do anything to make us laugh. He will watch quietly for a short time, but as soon as he thinks he will get away with it he gets stuck into a task without a second thought and without a worry for the consequences of getting it wrong. He is more likely to get injured, although his sister worries about getting injured more.

When Garden Girl helps me weed the garden she asks me which things she should dig up and she carefully digs round the actual plants so they won't get damaged. She digs deeper to get the roots because she knows if she doesn't it will grow back. She carefully places the weeds in the bucket so they don't blow around the garden and re-root elsewhere. If she comes across a worm or ladybird or spider she is startled and a little fearful. She steps back with worry and waits till it has gone before she carries on. She is equally worried that the creature will sit on her arm which would be scary and that she will accidentally hurt the creature with her garden fork, because she likes them when they don't come too close. She will look at a frog until it jumps, when she will jump as far as possible as in the opposite direction to the frog. She will look at the lovely patterns on a snail shell but will not pick one up to move it away from our vegetables.

Yesterday however, Garden Boy helped me weed by digging anywhere he felt like. Nothing he dug up went into the bucket, but rather it was moved to another part of the garden from where he toddled proudly back. He concentrated for a while, but as soon as he spotted a ladybird his attention was focused on bugs for the rest of morning. He watched the ladybird with great interest. He shouted at it to wake up and it did. He grinned at me as he told me the ladybird was walking. He showed the ladybird a picture of primroses and told the ladybird all the primrose colours. He tried to pick the ladybird up and shouted for it to come back when it flew away. He got excited when he saw a worm and eagerly tried to hold it, disappointed when it burrowed into the soil to hide. The snails we found were a bit more accommodating and they didn't seem to mind being held by little hands. 'Look Mummy, snail' he gleefully announced as he held out snail after snail for me to inspect. He had found a little stash of them underneath the lavender, all of which now reside in our green bin waiting to be taken away by the bin men. He wanted to try and eat one till I stopped him. If he sees a frog he wants to chase it, not jump away.

And puppy dog tails, you ask? Well Grandma and Grandad North have a lovely energetic border terrier which Garden Girl approaches with caution. She likes him and will stroke him gently when he is calm but if he gets excited she clambers on the sofa out of the way and tells him to leave her alone. Garden Boy meanwhile will happily grab a handful fur and try to catch the tail.

They are so different. Perhaps its boys versus girls, perhaps its just personality. But it definitely makes the world a more interesting place and I wouldn't change either of them. I just can't help but wonder how Garden Bump will approach all these things and the anticipation of discovering a third personality makes me smile.


  1. This is so funny to read as it is just like my older two but in reverse. My girl sweetpea has the same ideas as your garden boy and my boy sweetpea is very similar to your garden girl :-) My girl sweetpea was the first girl in my husbands side of the family for sometime and my Father-in-law says she is more of a boy than the boys are, I think he may be right lol :-)

  2. And what confuses me (no confuse is the wrong word), what never cease to surprise me is how two little girls from the exact same parent can be so different.

    My eldest is like your eldest and my youngest is well.... like the boy I never had.