Vista has been saving her money and so we went out today to let her pick out a toy. We headed over to the local box store and started wandering up and down the toy aisles.
I made a conscious decision not to skip the first few aisles where the so called/labeled “boys” toys were. I wanted to see what toy Vista would pick when allowed to choose for herself.
She ignored the barbies. She walked right past the dolls. She didn’t even look at the shelves upon shelves of princess and Suzy homemaker stuff.
I will admit I was a little surprised. But instead of asking if she was sure that was what she wanted (and thus making her question her choice), I instead asked her if she wanted to look at anything else or if she was done.
She told me she didn’t want to look anymore and was ready to go.
So we headed home, put together her new toy, and she proceeded to play with it for the next two hours.
It’s always interesting what toys kids will choose when left to be kids rather than assigning the toys genders. Many parents when faced with the same situation would have told their daughter’s “No, sweetie. That’s a ‘boy’ toy,” and dragged their girls to the aisles of pink.
Vista does love pink, and loves to dress up as a princess, but she also loves to play with toy cars and trains. I’m OK with that.
This year for her birthday, we bought her a butterfly net and a kit for catching and examining bugs. She was thrilled and immediately had to go outside and get some ants to look at under the magnifying glass.
I don’t want to limit her scope of play just because she’s female.
When I was in Junior High the girls had to take home-ec and the boys took shop. That was just the way it was and no one questioned it.
I was disgusted. I wanted to take shop! That sounded like a heck of a lot more fun than baking a cake.
I got together a few other girls and we campaigned to be allowed to opt into the shop class instead. We pointed out that it was just as important for us to be able to use tools as it was for boys to be able to cook a meal and sew on a button.
We were lucky. Our administration listened and changed the classes so that both girls and boys each took half a semester of shop and half a semester of home-ec.
That was over 20 years ago.
And still, here we are assigning gender roles to everything.
I would even go so far as to say that we’ve taken several steps backwards in this area (if the PINK Easy-Bake Oven that Vista has is any indication. When I had an Easy Bake it just looked like something you would see in the kitchen. It didn’t need to be pink.)
I will continue to encourage my daughter to play with toys that she enjoys and that encourage her to explore and question her world, because, the last time I checked, toys don’t have genders.