Boys Toys and Girls Toys
With Christmas fast approaching I am faced with an issue that is really bugging me.
The whole “Boys Toys” and “Girls Toys” thing.
Being a former day carer I completely believe all toys are for all children. I do however face the fear of having “old fashioned” friends and family that I can just see them gasping at my 16 month old son opening a kitchen set and some dolls on Christmas day and firmly stating that he is a boy and should have boy toys. I am going to make him girly by encouraging him to play with “girls toys”
This fear has played a big part on my gift selection procrastination.
My little boy is OBSESSED with Frozen! I know he would adore a set of soft Elsa and Anna dolls. He would love some Kristoff stuff too but just try and find Frozen merchandise for boys! I have stumbled across a bobble head and a lunch box that weren’t covered in pink and frills so they have gone in the Santa sack. And while my 6 month long search for boys frozen t-shirts or pajamas that are small enough has been fruitless, I’m hoping with the popularity of Frozen this silly season I can find some!
The Frozen stuff was not really a worry for me, they are from “Santa”, so if anyone has an issue with a boy getting dolls it can be taken up with the big guy in red.
The part My husband and I had trouble with was getting a kitchen set. Not in finding one that wasn’t aimed at girls, Big W has an awesome wooden set in red, gray and blue. My hubby was worried he wouldn’t play with it (I quickly dispelled that idea when I put him down in front of a display set and he went straight to the pot on top and started “cooking”) I was worried that I was getting him too many “girls toys” and will face criticism for it.
Stores really don’t help with the toy stereotyping. You have clear sections to shop in.
I take issue not with separating these toys, dolls and dress ups and household roll play are different to trucks and guns and dinosaurs. What I take issue with is the blatant “these are for boys and these are for girls” of the whole thing. Try getting a toy stroller that’s not pink, or a doll that’s a boy (and not outrageously priced) or a race track with pictures of a girl on the box. Packaging is so sexist on these stereotyped toys it has made me question my choices in Christmas presents, despite knowing better!
The thing is, our son already has LOTS of “boys toys” with a big family and him being the first baby on both sides, he is certainly not lacking in toys. And with a day carer mum who pays attention to what he is interested in and where he is at developmentally, if I can justify it to Hubby, and am not spending a lot on it, we get it. He has a half dozen various Tonka trucks, a train set, generic baby toys that beep and flash and play music. He has lots of books and art supplies, outdoor toys and clothes, so many clothes! And he is a little boy that likes to do what mummy does, after him crying every time I got the broom out because he wanted to do it, you guessed it, we got him a cleaning set. He LOVES it. He is obsessed with the vacuum and while I refuse to pay the price for a decent looking toy vacuum, I have put it on his wish list.
So the “girls toys” we thought long and hard about are what we wanted because our son would love them, because he is getting into roll play, because we are renting and can’t really get him an awesome cubby house or sand pit. Because a kitchen is going to last him years of play.
I had to seriously ask myself why I was a little uncomfortable with the gift, and reaffirm why we wanted them in the first place.
The packaging can be hard to ignore, and finding gender neutral options can be daunting and not always possible (or at least budget friendly) and once he is old enough to let me know what he wants for Christmas (which means understanding Christmas in the first place) it is his choice to make. Until then the decision is up to me as his parent. I have to ignore the packaging, I have to deal with people commenting on our gift choices (as with many of our parenting choices) and I will defend his right to be a child, who plays with children’s toys not a boy who should play with boys toys and not girls toys.
For more information about toys and gender go to www.NoGenderDecember.com