When I started writing this I was going to write a post about how all ‘girly’ toys were boring and dangerously stereotypical. How, when I was shopping for a small present for my almost one-year-old girl all I found were tiny vacuum cleaners, microwaves and baby dolls. I was going to ask the question: “what am I telling my little girl about being female if I just give her cleaning appliances, cooking utensils or a baby for her very first birthday?”
I was also going to whinge about how ‘boys’ toys are all exciting and adventurous – train sets, fire engines and dump trucks.
But then I remembered what we gave my son for his first birthday … a mower.
Don’t get me wrong, he loves mowers. When we go to the hardware store he sits on them with as much excitement as if they were a carousel at a local fair. Plus the mower fitted the description at the time – we wanted an outdoor toy and something he could push as he was still learning to walk.
But isn’t a mower just the “male” equivalent of a “vacuum cleaner”? Mowing isn’t exactly exciting. It is just another chore.
So maybe my problem isn’t a problem with ‘girly’ toys … maybe I’m just overthinking these things because she is a girl – and because I am a girl. And because I think too much.
Maybe it’s because I think it’s extremely important for her to know that she can choose to be whatever she wants to be (and if she chooses to be a cooking, cleaning mother then, of course, I’m all for that!).
But what about my son? Am I assuming that he will automatically grow up knowing he can be whatever he wants to be, no matter how many toy gardening tools he has? Is that why I bought him a mower without a second thought as to whether it would impact on his perception of gender roles? Why wasn’t I concerned that by giving him a mower I was somehow telling him that boys are only good for doing outside chores?
And when did shopping for birthday presents become so complicated?
Oh and for the record … I did buy her a ‘girly’ toy (as well as clothes and a book). We have enough boy toys, baby toys and gender-neutral toys. We have trucks, trains, dinosaurs and cars. We’ve got Lego, puzzles, a blackboard and a water table. We’ve got stuffed toys. We’ve got musical instruments. We’ve got blocks, balls and bath toys. There’s even a mini-trampoline that lives in my bedroom due to lack of space.
What we don’t have is ‘girly’ toys.
So, now we do. We have a tea set. It is blue, green and red. And she’ll love it. And her brother will probably love it too. May they have many enjoyable chats over a cuppa just like their mum and dad do.