Monday, June 30, 2014

On Boys and Girls

We are currently reading aloud The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit {affiliate link} and have found it to be wonderful.  This passage from last night so struck me that I wanted to post it here.

'Well,' said the Doctor, 'you know men have to do the work of the world and not be afraid of anything - so they have to be hardy and brave.  But women have to take care of their babies and cuddle them and nurse them and be very patient and gentle.'

'Yes,' said Peter, wondering what was coming next.

'Well then, you see.  Boys and girls are only little men and women.  And we are much harder and hardier than they are' - (Peter like the 'we'.  Perhaps the Doctor had known he would.) - 'and much stronger, and things that hurt them don't hurt us.  You know you mustn't hit a girl -'

'I should think not, indeed,' muttered Peter, indignantly.

'Not even if she's your own sister.  That's because girls are so much softer and weaker than we are; they have to be, you know,' he added, 'because if they weren't, it wouldn't be nice for the babies.  And that's why all the animals are so good to the mother animals.  They never fight them, you know.'

'I know,' said Peter, interested; 'two buck rabbits will fight all day if you let them, but they won't hurt a doe.'

'No; and quite wild beasts - lions and elephant - they're immensely gentle with the female beasts.  And we've got to be, too.'

'I see,' said Peter.

'And their hearts are soft, too,' the Doctor went on, 'and things that we shouldn't think anything of hurt them dreadfully.  So that a man has to be very careful, not only of his fists, but of his words.  They're awfully brave, you know,' he went on.  'Think of [Roberta] waiting alone in the tunnel with that poor chap.  It's an odd thing - the softer and more easily hurt a woman is the better she can screw herself up to do what has to be done.  I've seen some brave women...'

If you haven't read this one aloud to your children, I highly recommend it.  My seven year old son has been so inspired by this book ("They saved the train, Mom!") and my five year old has listened pretty intently to the story, and I am finding it captivating as well.

I'll leave you with a few pictures of my girls and boys, just doing what boys and girls do best, playing:

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