June 29, 2009

Toys for Boys and Girls

With our fourth birthday quickly approaching, I've been trying to make a list of things I think the girls would like for gifts. Actually, I do a combined birthday/Christmas list since the holidays sneak up right after their birthday. This year I've realized how much easier it is to buy for girls than it is to buy gifts for boys.
I've always known little girls have a better selection of clothes. Dresses, skirts, pants, shorts.... don't tell my daughters, but sometimes I even scour the boy's clearance racks because the shorts and pants are cheaper. At this age, who's going to be able to tell the difference?
It's the selection of toys that makes everything a little unfair. My daughters have their fair share of baby dolls, Care Bears, dress-up clothes, fake food, etc. They also have cars, fire trucks, soccer balls. These days no one thinks twice about buying little girls toys that are traditionally associated with little boys. It doesn't bother me that my daughters don't always want to play with dolls. Some days they want to splash in the mud or race their cars around. But think about buying a boy a doll or a pink Care Bear and you may be setting yourself up for an argument. Now let's face it, not every boy wants to play with a doll, just like not every girl wants a baby doll. But why is it much more acceptable for girls to play with "boy" toys? Why do we even have "boy" and "girl" toys?
I did notice one exception to this "rule" many years ago. When I was in third or fourth grade, Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. If you had one, you brought it to school. Suddenly it wasn't just the girls bringing their dolls to school... boys were receiving Cabbage Patch Kids and proudly bringing them to school, too. They, of course, always had boy dolls. It is the one time I can remember when it was acceptable for boys to own and play with dolls.
Boys want to have as much fun as girls, even if it means stomping around in dress up shoes. Have you heard the noise those shoes make on wood floors? What kid doesn't want to drive his or her parents crazy with those loud stomps?
On the flip-side, I don't push things on my daughters. If they want to wear pink and play with baby dolls, rather than cars, go for it. But on the days they want jeans and their fire truck, I'm all for that , too.


LauraC said...

Our day care is mixed gender so they have toys of "both" genders there. It is interesting to see how at school, everyone plays with everything but at home, the boys ignore the babies and play with the cars and blocks.

Recently Nate is a lot more interested in dressing girly and getting his toenails painted, so we let him do it.

Stephanie B said...

My son loves his play kitchen (Daddy does the cooking) and we got him a doll when his little sister was on her way.

I want him to be happy and I let him choose his favorite toys.

He's going through a car phase, though.

Quadmama said...

I've noticed at my daughters' preschool a lot of the boys play with the dolls and strollers, too. I wonder how many of them play with those at home... if they even have them. I say let them choose whatever they want.

MaryAnne said...

My son plays with the play food/kitchen about the same as my daughter, and they both have baby dolls. And he has been known to wear her princess shoes... but there's definitely a huge disparity in marketing, and I do have a couple friends who think little boys shouldn't play with dolls.

Quadmama said...

I still have friends who will be over with their boys and say "oh my husband would be so mad if he saw 'Billy' playing with that doll." I think things have definitely changed since our generation was kids, but it's still not perfect.

jayewalking said...

My oldest got a princess dress up box for Christmas a couple years ago. Her cousins who gave it to her wanted to wear the clothes too. SIL and I said sure, but hubs was a little flabbergasted when the boys put on the pink dresses and cape.

I've never understood why boys couldn't play with certain toys either. My mom was very into not stereotyping us. I had trucks and dolls and so did my brother. My poor dad comes from a very traditional European family and he was uncomfortable with my brother playing with a boy Cabbage Patch wannabe doll.

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