What Happens At The Boy-Girl Divide

I'm sad to report, my four-year-old has reached a new milestone that's left us with two-thirds less playdates and me missing my friends. The little guy has reached the point in his life where the boy-girl divide is beginning.

When having playdates when he was age three and under, it didn't matter if it was a boy or girl, they just got along. In a co-playing sort of way. During this time, almost all children play with the same toys. Toddler staples like things that roll, make noise, have buttons, fun colors, stack, sort...

Now, my son wants to play specifically with trucks, army men, Hotwheels and Star Wars. His girl friends, are, for the most part, completely unintersedted in having army or Star Wars battles.

I noticed the divide happening about a month ago. We had a girlfriend over for a long playdate, and the two had a very hard time playing together. But that's not the worst of it. They ate lunch at seprate tables! We have two tables in our backyard, a 'kid' table and 'adult' table. They chose to split up. Both insisted on staying at their table, and ate their lunch. Happily.

Then, one of Ollie's friends he's known since birth (he was born two weeks before the little girl), came for a playdate that left her mother and I shocked. They didn't even want to play in the same room! Which, is insane. The two have played remarkably well over the years. She even gave Ollie his first kiss. The two would follow each other anywhere. Transportation optional.

Then the real kicker came when one of his best girlfriends from two doors down came for a play date and ended up leaving 15 minutes later. Ollie wanted to play army guys and she was completely not into it. Which is cool. Unless you're my four-year-old son.

He tried to get her interested in the Army men-- the good guys and setting up the battle. She just stared. When I went to redierct them to something more mutually enjoyable, she annouced that she  missed her mom and wanted to go home and play with her toys.

As she ran home, in her brand new pink cowboy boots, my crestfallen son stood there, watching her, with the saddest look on his face. He was devastated she left.

(It was such a moment, I took a photo of both!)

Once she turned up the sidewalk to her house, Ollie turned to me and he started crying. I scooped him up, and sat down on the front steps and held him. I thought I might cry with him. I was so sad he was sad.

Once I laid enough kisses and hugs on him to stop the crying, I did my best to explain that she was not upset with him, she just wanted to go home to her mommy.

He was truely shocked she didn't like his army guys and wanted to go home. I tried to explian that not all children like the same toys, and that's Ok. That sometimes boys and girls really like differnt toys, nd maybe in the future,  he find something they both he and his friend enjoy doing.

Then, I asked him if he was at her house and all she wanted to do was play with her little ponies and dolls, would he like it? Reluctantly, he said, no.

While I know he doesn't fully understand what's going on, the fact remains, we are entering the boy girl divide. Thankfully, the only issue currently lies with toys and interests, and not cooties and germs. I'm trying not to make a big deal of it, and don't want to give him the impression that boys and girls only want to play with and do gender-specific things.

Thankfully, all hope in suscessful boy-girl playdates is not lost. I'm learning with a little pre-planning,   it can be done. It helps tremendously to have gender nuetral activities lined up. Things like, arts and crafts, board games, backyard Red-light-green-light... The trick is redirecting to something they both are interested in.

Bubbles are always a winner!

Have you entered the boy girl divide? Already dealt with it? Any tips or stories???

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com