A Toy Story

Last week, we went to stay with some very dear friends who have three little girls. As you can imagine, walking into their house is a massive assault on the senses - and it always takes Sachin an hour or so to acclimatise to the noise, the hyperactivity, and the pink!

Between the three of them, they have every toy you can imagine, they are very lucky little girls. They have a massive play room filled with wendy houses, books, cars, musical instruments, and a LOT of babies.

When I say babies, I mean baby dollies. Small, plastic beings, with eyes that open and close according to whether they are upright or lying down. (If only real babies worked like this). They have every race, every size, with all the accessories. Usually they can be found in various states of undress, their little baby sized clothes lost at some point or another, during a nappy change or bath time no doubt.

Now, Sachin has a lot of toys. Many of them, the same as the girls. Bricks, books, musical instruments, balls...He doesn't however, have any little babies. This isn't really a concious decision. I'd estimate that 99% of his toys are gifts, and no-one has yet given him a dolly. But whilst in the house that was filled with pink, he was drawn to the little babies. He carefully piked them up and inspected them, called them 'baybee', put them in cots, and carried them around. At bath time, he would at some point, pick one up, wash it's hair, and leave it on the side of the bath to dry out.

It is highly likely that this love for the babies comes from his love of new things, as all toddlers have. Something different, something he doesn't normally get to play with. But I like to see that as well as being rough and tumble, and loud and stompy, he also has the capability to nurture. Something he does often with his teddies - sharing his milk and brushing their teeth before bed. I imagine that the idea of little babies being for little girls comes from the stereotypical role of women being the nurturers. But in our world, men are too. Sachin has parents who share childcare 50/50. His Daddy is also the one looking after the baby, cooking, washing, playing. And those are qualities I wish him to have too.

On the way home, M and I discussed it.

Me: Sachin really liked playing with the little dollies.
M: Yeah.
Me: I might buy him one.
M: Hmm... (thinking) OK yeah. But can you choose a masculine one?
Me: A masculine one?
M: Yeah, like a cowboy. A cowboy baby!

M was only half joking, I realise. A little baby is not seen as a very 'boy' thing to play with. M grew up in a house where toys were scarce, in fact he only really had a few books and toy cars, so the option would never have been there. I grew up in a house of girls and so never had cars or bricks. I like the idea that Sachin has no gender specific toys. At this age, I don't think there is a lot of difference between boys and girls anyway, and I don't feel the need to encourage one.

What did you play with when you were little? Was it all pink for girls and blue for boys in your house? I guess if you have a family of mixed siblings then there really is no divide?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find a cowboy baby...


  1. I do love the old fashioned wooden type toys...but really, it's the toys that make children smile that are the best. A cowboy dolly would bring lots of smiles I'm sure!

    So nice to see you back in this lovely space...

    Ingrid x

  2. A quick google found this:


    Ha ha! These are freaky, there are certainly cowboy babies but I don't know what Sachin would think!!!

  3. My two year old daughter can be so incredibly girly. She loves shoes, shopping, fairy princesses, playing with her baby dolls and her doll's house. But she also has her tomboy side. She has so many little toy cars I've lost count, she has a mini tool set and she loves dressing up - recently it's been firemen and racing car drivers! I think both these sides to her are great!

  4. If we ever have children, boys or girls, they will be hard pushed to persuade me to by dolls. I have a huge phobia of dolls - Toy Story 3 was terrifying for me. I don't think I could cope in that house.

  5. I love that he brushes his teddies teeth, too cute! Wonderful too that he has that gentleness and curiosity. Good luck on finding your cowboy!

  6. Ingird - I *love* wooden toys too. And thank you, it's good to be back!

    Amy - That is some scary looking doll right there! Can you imagine waking up in the night to that looking over you?!

    PhotoPuddle - It's so great she has both kinds, I love the idea of the mini tool belt!

    Spare Thoughts - HA! Remeber the Doll with the legs in Toy Story 1? Now that was scary.

    Marie - I know, it's so cute!

  7. I don't really remember having many 'girlie' toys (and I certainly don't remember everything being pink, which I'm going to post about soon) but it's hard to say how much of that was my parents' influence and how much my choice/that of gift-givers. I remember mostly lots of small world play (building whole towns with Play People or massive car tracks) and role play (schools, shops, post office etc.)

    For my own kids I am drawn to wood and other materials over plastic and unisex over girl/boy toys, but (without being ungrateful) unfortunately the reality is that we have chosen very few of her toys. One side of our family has the same taste as us, the other has something of a penchant for pink plastic tat. So end up with a balance, which is probably not so bad. (My sister is an interior designer and once did a job for someone whose kid's bedroom looked like that of a Victorian child, right down to the toys. Nothing modern permitted. I wonder how long they'll manage to keep that up.)