When Your Daughter Runs Circles Around the Boys

I look out the window to find she’s turned the swing set into an obstacle course again. Like a monkey at the zoo, she alternates swinging hands and feet from swing seat to trapeze bar to the other swing seat before grabbing the slide’s platform with both hands. Pulling herslef onto the platform, she pats herself on the back by breaking out some dance moves. She then turns 180 degrees with a flourish and performs the trick again in reverse.

I look over at my boys who are sitting quietly with their books and music. I wonder what’s wrong with this picture.

The truth is absolutely nothing.

The truth is I’m not the only mama whose daughter runs circles around boys.

My twin sons haven’t always been so ready to be still. I spent their toddler years unable to take them both to the park by myself because one was a climber and the other a runner and both had no desire to stay close to me. And then when they were 2 and 3, they never walked but ran from room to room or wild outside. The preschool years brought fast peddling bike rides with no hands and game after game after game of chase and tag.

They sporadically play sports and still enjoy hiking and bike rides, but the older they get, the more inclined they are to take their down time reading, playing board games, computer games, drums or music.

While age thirteen finds James and Ethan tapping the brakes, it finds my Faith punching the gas pedal. And in her opinion, down time is punishment rather than privilege.

Beginning at four years old, she wanted to ignore our family policy of one extracurricular activity at a time. {But whhhyy can’t I do soccer and cheerleading and swim lessons and gymnastics and dance all at once?} From her itty bitty years ’til today, she would rather swing and run than sit and read, hang upside down than stay right side up, explore new heights than stay on the ground.

The older she gets the faster she accelerates, hair flying wild and free like her spirit.

More than anything on God’s green earth, my kids have taught me about the infinite canvas of God’s creation. His fingerprints leave unique strengths, talents, and personality traits on each living soul making no two of us alike. While there’s no denying boys and girls have general tendencies towards gender specific characteristics, there’s also no denying those lines aren’t black and white. Their individual personalities are just that: individual.

“What my wife and I have learned over the years is that grace-based homes have got to be places where children have the  option to be who God uniquely designed them to be…Their young minds run wild and sometimes perform crazy gauntlets within their imaginations. God made them this way. He chose to put these characteristics on the front side of their life. Obviously, He calls on parents to help them develop the maturity and skills to take on adulthood, but not at the expense of their unique nuances. This is an amazing time for their lives. When we get done leading them through it, the sense of amazement is still supposed to be in place – only more sophisticated. Declaring war on his differences just because they don’t fit our fancy is a good way to snuff out a child’s sense of wonder and amazement for a lifetime.”

~ Dr. Tim Kimmel, Grace Based Parenting

I’m just a mama doing my best to live grace to my children. Oh, I’ve messed this up by trying to squish their individual personality traits into factory made molds. But instead I want to be the mama who celebrates their character by supporting their strengths, that cheers them on in broad daylight by embracing their dreams.

Looking out my window again, I see snow starting to fall. Faith cartwheels across the backyard, only stopping to catch snowflakes on her tongue. I pray earnestly,

“Lord, may she always be so ready to cartwheel and grab the amazing and unique. May I always be looking heavenward with hands open ready to embrace all that is right and good and unique in her and her brothers. And may I remember that instead of “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls,” it’s really James, Ethan, and Faith will be James, Ethan, and Faith.”

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  1. Karen H. says

    Oh, how I loved this post. You summarized everything I have been feeling the past few months as I watch my 7 year old son gravitate towards artistic activities instead of stereotypical ‘sports’ activities. I love the fact that he is following his own interests instead of being pushed into areas that mean nothing to him. Parenting is such an amazing journey, and it’s wonderfully inspiring to watch God take the lead and see where he will guide our little ones.

  2. liza lee grace says

    Oh, this is rich. Letting our kids be themselves rather than the image society thinks they should be! I have only boys, and while they all fit the rough-and-tumble description at times, the truth is, they’d rather be inside than out (except for playing ball). They hate bugs and gross things (except bodily noises. They still think that is funny). They don’t mind dirt, but don’t like to stay dirty. I’ve always hated the phrase “boys will be boys” because it’s so limiting, and a lame excuse for bad behavior.

  3. says

    Love your Friendship Prayer! So genuinely honest…as we should always be in our prayers. It is one I shall post on my fridge as a reminder that in order to have friends, I must first BE a {good} friend.

  4. Brandi Cunningham says

    Kristen, thank you for this! It confirms what God has been whispering to my heart as I am bewildered by my own girls and how different they are. I too have a flitting future track star whose been warming up since she could stand on her own two feet! 😉 But her personality has continued to unfold in stark contrast to her sisters.’ This is both wonderful and challenging for me. Need our Jesus to help unfold them that’s for sure! Love ya!

    • says

      Brandi!! Thank you for stopping by, friend. Oh how I miss you.

      And this right here? “Need our Jesus to help unfold them…” Beautiful. And YES. I love you!

  5. says

    OH, my goodness, I know where you are coming from. I have one of those daughters, too! And I encourage her to never ever change. I want her to keep running circles around boys, and to never bow to society (and peer’s) views of what she SHOULD be.
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