Boy toys and girl toys. The distinction has always been abundantly clear. The day the ultrasound tech announced “It’s a boy!” was the day I was pigeonholed into building up a supply of trucks, trains, action figures and robots.
And then my son was born, and grew, and began to show independent interest in things. And I realised pretty damn quickly that nobody had told him that he was supposed to be honing in on all things masculine.
My son will give anything a go, and watching him playing, trying new things and exploring the world gives me all the feels. He hasn’t yet met a toy that hasn’t captivated him. So who am I to tell him, “No, you can’t play with that. That’s a GIRLY toy! Here, have another truck.” Who am I to stomp on his curiosity and versatility?
With that in mind, the entire toy section has pretty much become my hunting ground. Yes, even the pink and sparkly bits. Not only do I accept that he can play with whatever the heck he wants, I actually want him to.
Kids have enough limits placed on them. Let’s not allow the joy of playing with toys to be one of those limits.
The next time I open my wallet to buy my kid a slice of heaven (AKA a brand new toy), this is what I’m going to be eyeing off…
1. A Play Kitchen
My parents kept my old play kitchen from childhood, and he basically lives in the thing when we’re visiting. He “cooks soup”, pops things in the oven, and potters around doing who knows what else. This has translated to him becoming curious of me when I’m cooking and baking, and he wants to get involved in any way he can – mixing, hammering meat, grating cheese and haphazardly pouring ingredients into the mixing bowl.
Boys who are told that play kitchens are for girls grow into men who believe that cooking is woman’s work. And that’s not the kind of man I want to raise.
2. A Doll House
I mean, what is even inherently girly about a miniature house with miniature people and miniature furniture and miniature pets in the first place? My son lives in a real-life house, interacts with real-life people, sits on real-life furniture and taunts real-life pets. (We’re working on that, obviously). But make it miniature, and suddenly it’s a girls-only domain? No. I’m not buying it. I mean, the concept. I’m not buying the concept. I’m absolutely buying the doll house.
3. A Baby Doll
Yep. Not only would I totally give my son a baby doll, I totally already did. He treats her like a real baby, feeding her bottles and cuddling her in bed. His first word (that wasn’t a farm animal sound) was “baby”. Once I even came home to find him and his baby doll playing with the little girl next door and her baby doll. Plus, with a real-life brand new baby girl due to join our family a few months from now, I’m pretty thrilled that this toy has helped foster such a love of infants in him. Many boys eventually grow up to become Dads of actual babies. Is that girly? No, it’s science. Don’t argue with science.
4. All. The. Pink.
There’s a bit of trend to “girlify” unisex toys by dipping them in an industrial-sized tin of pink paint. But nobody told my son that these pink playthings have a very specific target market… and he’s not it. If he finds himself partial to the pink scooter, not the red one with the racing stripes, it’s all his.
5. A Tea Set
Because hospitality is NOT limited to women either! When we have friends over, it’s usually my husband who sets about preparing teas and coffees for our guests. Serving people is a beautiful thing, as is sitting down to enjoy the ceremony of tea and biscuits on a lazy Friday arvo. Am I going to deny my son either opportunity? By now, you probably know the answer to that.
6. Craft Activities
Just as my husband is keen-as-a-bean to pass his mad handyman skills and love of woodwork onto our boy, I can’t wait to impart my love of crafts. Bead threading. Stitching. Knitting. Flippin’ latch hooking. These are all skills I plan to teach him as he gets older. Crafts are great for learning patience, fine motor skills and attention to detail. The sense of accomplishment over a finished project is a feeling everyone – male or female – should get to experience!
7. Female-Empowering Story Books
There are some awesome kids’ story books on the market that champion girls and spread the message that girls are smart, strong and unstoppable. Unfortunately, most of these books are marketed for – you guessed it – girls. To me, that’s a two-fold missed opportunity for my son. One, because every kid, male or female, benefits from an empowering message. Two – and this is the more important one – because my son needs to know just how brilliant girls are. Boys need to hear about strong, amazing females just as much as girls do.
At the end of the day, it’s about forgetting the stereotypes and picking toys that I know my son will benefit from and enjoy.
However, some toys are off-limits. I mean I’m probably/definitely just going to avoid these 15 super disturbing toys that will give kids nightmares and also these 10 incredibly annoying toys – gender specific or not!