It's pretty funny hearing the debates that rage between Keenin and Reese. Though Emaley and I haven't gone out of our way to promote "girly" things for Reese and "boy" things for Keenin (which, brings up another point: why isn't there a male counterpart to the term "girly"? I guess you could say "boyly," but that just sounds stupid), each of them has nevertheless posted their gender flags and they subsequently defend their territory with zeal. There are moments when compromises are reached and they are able to temporarily join forces for the common cause of having fun. However, it inevitably dissolves into the clash of the sexes once again with Reese demanding they play "girl" games, and Keenin stating unequivocally that it is only "boy" games he will condone. The battle lines are redrawn as they return to their trenches, with mermaids, ponies, and unicorns in one, and Spider-Man, Batman, and dinosaurs in the other.
Today, in particular, Keenin has been playing almost exclusively with his new toy dinosaur he received from a friend of the family's for his birthday. Reese has been playing with her dollhouse, which opens up to show the inside, and which came with an entire family (daddy, mommy, brother, sister, and baby). They were playing separately until somehow the realms of play overlapped and soon they were trying to play together. However, it quickly fell apart into an argument, with Reese begging Keenin to have the dinosaur come eat dinner with the family, and Keenin insisting that the family is the dinosaur's dinner. Reese insisted that the dinosaur should not eat the family, but that rather it should be their pet. Keenin insisted that the family should "go to war against the dinosaur" (his words exactly), which, in Keenin's mind, was the greatest compromise ever: Reese got to play house while still partaking in the epic struggle against giant carnivores.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to get them ready for church, so I asked Reese to go get her socks on. She glared at Keenin and told him not to eat the family while she was away. She stalked off into her room with Keenin watching her go, at which point he took his dinosaur, latched its jaws onto the mom's head, and started intermittently growling and screaming in a high-pitched voice as the mommy was devoured. Then he grabbed the dad, who punched the dinosaur, rescuing his wife from the clutches of the evil monster.
Reese came back into the room with her socks on only to see, to her horror, Family vs. Dinosaurs!
Everything came apart, of course, with them arguing over what to play until they came to me, whom they view as the great mediator. With Solomon-like wisdom, I told them they should take turns and play girl stuff for one minute, then boy stuff for one minute, switching off. This idea seemed to be the best compromise they could come up with. Keenin demanded that I set a timer so that they wouldn't play girl stuff for one second longer than a minute. Reese seconded the motion and it became policy: the timer has been going off every minute for about ten minutes now.
The result has been a sort of bipolar pretend play: one minute they're having tea, with the Tyrannosaurus Rex politely asking for "two sugars, please," after which he suddenly attacks and the family must fight back with their magic (not sure when the magic came into the whole scenario). Soon thereafter, they are back to tea, until the dinosaur loses interest once more and decides he wants more of a snack than a hot drink and a cookie.