Toys for girls and boys

Our children had a friend to play. Mine are a 5-year old boy (J), and a 3-year-old girl (L) and the friend is 6 years old (S). See if you can guess the gender of the friend…

Picture it:
6-year-old (S) dressed up as a knight
5-year-old (J) dressed up as a viking
3-year-old (L) dressed up as a cuddly dalmatian dog

On seeing the viking getting a toy axe out of the dress-up box, S said: “I wish I’d brought my sword!”. When a spare sword has been found, a “fight” takes place in the living room. The cuddly dalmatian tries to sort out a lead for herself while the fight is taking place.

While working in the kitchen, I see them walking past in a little parade: dalmatian (L) on the lead attached to a bright pink buggy that’s being pushed by the knight, with viking proudly marching behind. They walk around the house like this for a bit. When I next see them all in the living room, a tea party is in full swing.

Seconds later, they all run past me in the hallway to the trampoline outside (still in costume). All the footballs (my partner is a football coach), basketballs, tennis balls etc end up on the trampoline to be kicked about.

Next they run back in, and stop in the kitchen to think what to do next. My son suggests they play “mums and dads and babies” (an old favourite, as long as he can be mum). 6-year-old dismisses this idea and suggest they go to the giant blackboard in the hallway instead for “scribbling”. All happily join in with this idea. The 2 older ones do this for quite some time, filling the entire black wall with curly squiggles, while the 3-year-old pours a drink for all the children.

At the end of it all, as the friend is picked up (as is so often the case, to get children to leave without too much fuss), the friend asks to borrow the roaring dinosaur toy we got from the Natural History museum over 3 years ago (one of our best toy buys, but I can’t find a link to it!)

So… is the friend a boy or a girl?

Does it matter? To me today stood out, not because it was an unusual scene (it’s not), but because this was such a lovely contrast from a boy who visited us earlier in the week. This 5-year-old boy angrily dismissed every dress-up item my daughter suggested to him as being “girly” or “not for boys”. But also, trying to find a knight’s outfit for a girl to illustrate this story has only thrown up ones that specify that it’s a boy’s outfit! I want this to be a positive blog, so I won’t rant, but I really don’t get why we limit our children’s play, their imagination and their friendships even by making them believe there are ‘correct’ toys or dress-up clothes for their gender? *sigh*

So added to my To Do list are a post on dressing up clothes (as suggested by Esther from Stella Blue in a comment on this blog) and a list of the fantastic people, blogs and websites that are fighting the limitations and gender stereotyping that toy manufacturers are putting on our children.

(Friend S was a girl, by the way)


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