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They say children should play in mixed genders until aged 5. It’s most healthy that way, I hear that they say. More natural according to charts of developmental stages. Good for their brain chemistry. Normal, I suppose. Status quo.

Children don’t realize their gender differences amidst primary-colored dump trucks and plastic-parted dolls. Or don’t care. There aren’t attractions or sexual urges to push this or that boundary. None of the things that make us worry in our ages beyond 5. That make us click it’s complicated.

So when they pile up down at the bottom of the slide, boy-girl-boy, limbs all askew, bodies pressed Oshkosh together, hands pushing to free themselves from tangle, I can be sure their laughter is not questionable, not laden with lust or the leaning towards such. It’s innocent play, the tummy-flip feeling that the benign drop of the slide breathes into young lungs. And, in giggles and sandaled steps, they’ll do it again, running up plastic stairs to pile platonically again at the bottom. But three times is a bore. They’ll move on, unassuming, to something more. Naa naa na-naa-nah, taunting as they run.

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