Tag Archives: gender equality

Who is the best at giving hugs?

My young daughter swerves by me and stubs her toe on a door.  I hold out my arms to give her a big hug and…she hops straight past.

Hops all the way down the hall.

Hops into the kitchen…yelling for Mum.

I follow and see her get a big cuddle and lots of sympathy. Then she looks round and flashes a cheeky grin. “Hey,” I say, “you ran right past me. I was going to give you a big hug.”

“Sorry, Dad, but you’re too bony – even though you’ve got a big fat belly. Mum’s way better at giving me cuddles.”

“What am I good for?” I ask, with a mock glum face.

“Well, I like it when you pretend to be a robot and run after me. And you’re pretty good at doing voices. Yeah, I like it when you read to me at night and do your Winnie the Pooh voice. Can you do it now?”

“Ummm, Uhhh, Nope – I don’ttt think so.”

“YOU JUST DID IT!”

“I think she’s feeling okay now,” says Mum.

“My foot still hurts a bit,” says the wee girl, angling for more attention. 

“Come to Dad and get a big hug,” I say, crouching down and stretching my arms wide.

“No – that’s Mum’s job. Your job is to tell me jokes and…”

“And?”

“Do the washing up. Pick up after me and Mum. Keep the house tidy and make cookies. You are the best in the world – ever – at making cookies, especially the big chocolate ones. Can you make them now?”

“It’s late. How about I make them tomorrow? How about I make Yorkshire Puddings? You used to call them Orchard Puddings when you were wee.”

“No Dad. Mum is the best at Yorkshires. [pause] But you are the best at pancakes.”

“It’s the same stuff!” I protest.

“Look. Sometimes you are okay at Yorkshires too.”

“What about hugs?”

She thinks. “Yes. But not if I’m really hurt because then I just have to go to Mum – it’s the law. Unless Mum’s not here then I’ll come to you. Don’t worry, Dad. I still love you.”

She starts running off.

“I can see your leg’s better now.”

And accidentally catches her shoulder on the door.

“Ow! That was your fault, Dad.”

“What? Why? How?!”

“Well, I get my cleverness and hair from Mum.”

“And…?”

“And I get clumsiness from you! It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean to give it to me.”

And off she goes with a grin…

to cuddle the dog!

“Skye gives the best hugs in this house!”

cuddle dog alan dapre

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Writing For Girls And Boys – blog post by Alan Dapre, children’s author


Recently, I was browsing in a well-known superstore with my young daughter. She found pink pyjamas decorated with rainbows – ‘For Girls age 7-8’. Then a set of dinosaur pyjamas. Isla turned to me with a frustrated look and said, “I really want those dinosaur ones, but it says ‘For Boys age 7-8’.”

Then a similar thing happened when we walked through a local discount store. The toy aisles were clearly segregated by colour and gender – pink for girls and blue for boys. Isla picked up a blue skateboard then put it down. “They make me think I can’t have it. Why can’t girls and boys share the toys?”

Why indeed?

As I write this blog at home, I am surrounded by Lego models. Some sets are obviously packaged for boys, others for girls. My daughter chose all of them, regardless. “I think boy stuff is cooler than girl stuff. They get to have ferocious dragons and knights and ninjas. Girls just get pretty rainbows and unicorns and lots of pink. Some girls might want to have different colours and have adventures.”

One of my favourite childhood books was The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp. Tyke takes on the school establishment in an action-packed tale. It was quite a shock to discover the eponymous protagonist was Theodora Tiler. Most of the books I had read up until then featured boys doing all the exciting stuff.

Being adventurous is a vital part of growing up for all children, not just boys. Books should reflect that. My Porridge the Tartan Cat books are funny, fast-moving, action packed adventures that anyone can read.

Twins Isla (named after my daughter, who calls herself Real Isla) and Ross McFun feature in every book of the Porridge the Tartan Cat series and star in two. Both characters are go-getting children, with enquiring minds who courageously work together to solve tricky problems. I chose non-identical twins because I wanted female and male characters who are equal but different. Children with the confidence and freedom to express and exchange ideas. In each book, they take turns to explore, to question and to lead. I’m not writing for girls or boys. I’m writing for girls and boys.

My wife is an engineer – and a great role model for our daughter. Together we encourage Real Isla to try new things and believe in herself. Anything is possible. Last month she scuba-dived in a cage at Deep Sea World and loved every moment. Not every child gets a chance to do that. Or to be in a book like Real Isla. But all children should see characters with identifiable traits, and read reassuring books that show them it’s okay to be themselves. Books that nourish, sustain and empower children to be the best they can be.

By the way, my daughter loves wearing her new dinosaur pyjamas. And I love that she loves them, too.

This blog re-post is taken from the Alan Dapré author page at the Discover Kelpies site

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