This Easter my four-year-old was taken to a new playgroup in the local church, not I should add through any great religious conviction on our part, but simply because this is where they are held. At the end he was handed a palm crucifix as is traditional at this time of year. I knew nothing of this until he pointed it at me as he climbed out of the car and pretended to shoot me with it. Despite my strong atheist tendencies I was shocked at seeing a cross used in this way and told him so.
He looked back, puzzled and said "But mummy, Jesus was killed by a crucifix". Ah the logic of youth. I could do nothing but burst out laughing as continued to strafe me with his Holy weapon.
This came back to me when I read about the recent study that reveals that boys love of guns, cars and trains is nothing to do with parental conditioning and everything to do with their basic biological urges. Though I feel this hardly needed to be the basis of a scientific study as a few trips to the park with my boys could have told the boffins exactly the same thing.
Even with a slightly girly boy as my eldest, we have still lived through the various little boy crazes from Bob the Builder, through Power Rangers, Ben 10, Star Wars, Dr Who, and I am reliably informed that we have WWF to look forward too. What joy. Every trip to the park is punctuated with stops to pick up a stick to use as a gun or Light Sabre, and it's always amusing watching my boys fight with the local dogs over ownership of the aforementioned sticks.
The sacrilegious four-year-old built up a whole stockpile of stick weapons under our decking and was devastated when I instigated a zero tolerance policy and binned the lot.
Boys are also drawn to any form of gadgetry, from TV remote controls (you know who you are Twin 1) to the XBox, Wii, computers, iPods, iPhones etc etc. If I ever want to quiet all four in one go I just need to let them loose in the living room with free reign to play with whatever technology they can operate.
I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a house with girls who played with dolls and make up, who wanted to pick flowers rather than fight with sticks, who wanted to watch Hannah Montana rather than endless Ben 10 cartoons, who were drawn by the sparkly allure of the Barbie displays, rather than to the plastic heaven that is the Bakugan aisle.
But by now I don't think I would have the skills necessary to bring up a girl, not unless she was happy to fight with sticks, get muddy jumping over streams and wasn't too bothered if her dolls became unwitting pawns in internecine alien warfare.