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.
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...