Or the one where I rant about a pink shopping cart.
I always thought I would have a girl. I have two younger sisters, and all of my dolls were girls. I felt prepared to teach a girl to be strong, independent, and confident. I was ready to teach her that she could be and do anything, even if current social examples showed otherwise. I didn't know what to expect with a boy. I knew to expect a diaper change shower, but that's not what I'm referring to.
On a recent trip to Target, I thought it would be cool to get Jude a shopping cart to go with his kitchen. After a trip down the toy aisles, I discovered that the only shopping cart was pink...PINK! Here is what that pink shopping cart (and pink vacuum, etc.) says to me: "Household chores are women's work," and furthermore, "real men don't grocery shop." It's preposterous, old fashioned, and just plain wrong. I know I can, and should, shop at a different store where they sell gender neutral shopping carts, but my point is this: Target is a mainstream American store, and therefore, a fairly accurate representation of how toys are marketed to kids. I would even go so far as to say that it points to how our mainstream society views gender roles. I was shocked that so many people could stroll down that pink aisle and keep their cool. I felt like this gal.
I am not naive. I know that boys and girls do tend to gravitate towards different toys, and that's okay. They are different, and I'm not trying to argue otherwise. My problem is with the blatant marketing of "chore" role-playing to girls only. (Just as "hero" toys should not only feature men, but that is a whole other post.) There are certain things that everyone needs to know, not the least of which is procuring and preparing food. Children learn through play, so limiting those role-playing items to girls-only-pink is wrong. Boys deserve a chance to practice playing house without being labeled as a "sissy", and girls deserve toys that don't scream, "this is your place (and only option), get used to it." Bottom line, more toys in mainstream outlets need to be gender neutral.
So here is what I pondered as I left that store empty handed (hell bent on a DIY): When Jude enters the social world of his peers, is he going to be "different" because he divides his time between lego building and baby burping? Between dump trucks and oven mitts? I realized that it might make him different, but it will also make him better prepared for real life. It's my job to insure he is proud of that difference.
I am, as most of us new parents are, figuring this out as I go. So far, my plan is to raise a man who knows how to cook, clean, care for a child, build things, fix things, throw a ball, and not give a damn which thing is "girly" and which thing is "manly." As it turns out, I plan to teach him the same things I thought about when dreaming of a baby girl: to be strong, independent, and confident. That he can do and be anything, even if current social examples show otherwise. After all, he already has an amazing example of this kind of man, he calls him, "Dad."
I'd love to know what you think about that pink shopping cart. Are you mindful of gender roles in raising your children? Any thoughts?