Boys and Girl

In this age of gender-role stereotyping awareness, I’m a bit reluctant to write this post. I’m going to make some gender biased statements, and I’m afraid I’m going to sound politically incorrect.

But I raised three sons. Perhaps I should have, but I never bought pink legos or made them play with dolls in order to foster an open mind about gender roles. I never purposely steered them away from “girly” things at the toy stores; they just gravitated towards the nerf guns and tractors, the plastic snakes and hammers. I didn’t make them watch the Sound of Music or My Fair Lady; after a few minutes of their first musical they scoffed and made fun. I never tried too hard to swim against certain tides that seemed inevitable in my all-male household.

For the most part, this was fine with me, as I was never a “frilly” girl given to hours of applying make-up or shopping for color-coordinated outfits. Put me on a hiking trail instead of in a shopping mall anyday. Occasionally, over the years I wondered if having daughters would have made for a quieter household. I wondered if I would have worried less about death-defying behaviors if my house were filled with girls. But for the most part, I was happy with sons.

However, when my daughter-in-law Amelie brought her friend Jessiann to the cabin last week, I will admit I learned what I have might have been missing.

Lavender. Amelie, Jessiann, and I went to the lavender farms on Washington Island.girls4

This entails spending a day: driving up to the peninsula’s tip, paying the money, and spending the time for a ferry ride into Lake Michigan ( I know, twist my arm.)

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We strolled through the fields, pausing to smell the rich fragrances. We sat leisurely and contentedly in the sun and were in no hurry to move on.

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The gift shops were a bit pricey, and frankly, a little bit too much the center of attention. (I came there for the lavender, not the posters of Paris or the cocktail napkins with chickens.) But I loved that all three of us thought lavender farms a worthy destination for a day trip.

Talking into the night. If you ask any of my sons what drives them the most crazy about me, they would likely say I ask too many questions. Or, that I talk in paragraphs when the information could be given in sentences. They are impatient with my long-windedness. But Amelie is not so much that way; she also likes to talk. We’ve had my nieces’ family join us this week, and as the cousins’ conversation drifted into late hours around the table, it was the girls who lasted the longest. We talked and giggled long after the boys had disappeared outside for a beer on the porch.

Hand-crafts. My boys did alright in art classes. They are each creative in their own way, but their craft-making stopped in about third grade. I’ve “crafted” by myself for a lot of years. But Amelie and Jessiann and I couldn’t have been happier when we took a paper-making class last week http://christiansonstudios.com/classes.htm

First off, who couldn’t love Kirsten Christianson?

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Her voice is like a calm river: smooth, warm, steady. Her studio is in an old barn- with plenty of light. She walked us step by step through the process: mix 100 percent cotton fibers with water, immerse screens, drain, sponge, press. On tables all about, she has botanicals drying: pressed flowers, beech leaves, twigs. We experimented with color; we helped and encouraged each other, we loved using our hands to make beautiful things in a beautiful place.girls6

My sons have brought me plenty of laughter over the years. They have strengths and talents and gifts, and I have appreciated, over the years, their “masculine” ways. Of course I could have happily visited the lavender farm or made paper by myself, but for the past two weeks, I sure have loved having a daughter.

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