Friday, December 29, 2006

Why we need a very very small bungee cord

I'd like to think that if I'd had children of only one sex, I would've beat back stereotypes to buy them toys meant for the opposite sex. As I commented on one of Kristen's recent posts, Opie did get a play kitchen this Christmas--and more than one of my acquaintances commented that they'd love to get one for their sons, too, but their husbands "wouldn't allow it." How depressing (and downright dumb) is that?!

But I'm not sure how aggressive I would been if I'd had to constantly row my own little non-sexist boat against the ever-rising tide (really a tsunami) of pink goodies for girls, or trucks-'n'-trains for boys. Now that I do have both a girl and a boy, I've realized that one of the many benefits to this arrangement is that they play with each other's toys without prompting. Jo has quite eagerly watched Opie's new "Truck Monster" DVD several times since Christmas, and she's also been spotted racing his soft plastic cars down their new track. Last summer, she happily consented when we insisted that her new two-wheeler be of the non-sparkly variety (so that it could eventually be handed down to her brother).

Meanwhile, Opie recently has taken an interest in Jo's baby dolls. He's far more likely to change Bitty Baby's clothes than his sister is, or to give a dolly a bottle or feed her with a tiny plastic spoon. Then again, he also likes to play Dolly Death Drop. He perches an unsuspecting baby on the top of our puppet theater (photo here) and then cackles with glee as he makes her plunge to the floor below.

That certainly wasn't the intended purpose of the theater, or the dolls. But I'll give him points for creativity--and remember that it's my privilege, and my responsibility, to raise both my boy and girl to know that there's no such thing as women's work, or men's. There's just work, and we should all pitch in and do it together.

9 comments:

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

Ian loves to make "The Daddy" jump off the top of our dollhouse. He thinks it's great. Sometimes the little girl jumps with him.

It must be in the male genes.

tallulah said...

Izzy (boy) got a play kitchen for last Christmas....he also plays with his sister's dress up clothes and Polly Pockets. The other two boys (7 & 9)have societal pressures outside of the home and would NEVER think to engage in "girly" stuff. However our girl (11)doesn't think twice about shooting her brothers with nerf guns or playing shoot-em-up video games.
I could never marry a man that would not let our children explore the feminine and males sides!

mama_tulip said...

You raise a good point. Before Oliver came along it was just Julia and she really didn't have much that could have been considered "boyish", save for that pair of Spiderman jammies that her Spiderman-obsessed uncle bought for her (which she wore with PRIDE).

Now that Oliver's here, Julia loves to play with his trucks and bulldozers and Oliver is surprisingly gentle with her Baby and loves to push her around in Julia's pink Disney Princess stroller.

mothergoosemouse said...

Dolly Death Drop - you've got me crying with laughter.

Having two girls, we've cornered the market on pink. All I can do is take my cues from them and pooh-pooh all the boy/girl differentiation of colors and toys and so forth.

Karianna said...

My son stomps around in my fanciest shoes, so even if the girly toys aren't there, he can make do.

Lady M said...

I love your point about the responsibilities of raising both the boy and the girl. There's a lot of talk about raising girls to believe in themselves and know they can do anything. It's just as important to raise boys to know that girls can do anything (and of course that the boys themselves can too!).

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Did you watch the documentary "Raising Cain"? They show it on PBS every once in awhile. It's about the problems boys face growing up, does a good job explaining how boys are different from girls and how one ought not to blame them for being that way. You'd like it. Anyway, one of the conclusions in the movie was that boys really need an example -- a role model -- of a man acting gently, being caring and loving. They need to see that man breaking the stereotypes. I thought it was interesting.

Jenifer said...

My daughter's favorite toys are cars and dinosaurs.... go figure.

TB said...

Rock on mama. I think it's awesome that you are raising your children this way and I hope to follow your lead.