Pink Strollers vs Monster Trucks

I recently read a debate on a public forum where mothers were discussing whether it was appropriate for their boys to be playing with dolls and toy strollers, pink or otherwise.

The arguments on either side were fairly simple. One side put the choice onto their husbands, who apparently would rather their toddlers were playing with footballs and toy cars, and felt uncomfortable with their manly babies being exposed to too much pink. The other side took the banning of ‘girl toys’ to be the parents way of bringing up mini chauvinists, who would shun both cooking and childcare, and treat their future wives as second class citizens.

I was particularly interested to note that from what I saw, no-one was making the argument that it simply doesn’t matter. Toys are toys. No one was insisting that your son either cooking up a frenzy in a plastic kitchen, or angrily causing mini car pile-ups has no effect on what kind of boy or man they will become.

So does it? Personally I found the conversation slightly ridiculous. If your son wants a buggy, let him have one, If you can find a blue one, great. Otherwise, get the pink one!  The idea that by your child playing with a fake baby they are going to be anything less than a “proper boy” is frankly ludicrous, and yes, as I saw one mother say, bordering on homophobia. Pretend play, which includes feeding a fake baby, cuddling it, kissing teddies, and taking care of a toy in a nurturing way, is an important developmental milestone which every child, male or female should be experiencing and indulging in.

Just in case anyone needs any help working out what is worrying male behaviour, it includes wearing female undergarments and recognising shoe designers by the heel size. Your toddler is simply learning and growing. In my opinion, there is no difference between your son hugging his Action man and hugging his sister’s Barbie doll.

On the other hand, I also had to stifle a laugh at the mothers who are rallying against the wife-beaters of tomorrow. If for whatever reason, our sons do not end up with buggies and dolls, because they are simply not interested or perhaps because we can’t all afford to indulge this weeks interest, I think there are far more important ways of showing them how to grow up to be well rounded and sensitive men. You want your son to know how to cook, even without a plastic kitchen? So take him into the full sized one and let him pour the flour. You want your baby boy to be a hands-on father, then lead by example and be the kind of dad that inspires that behaviour in his kids. Shoving a pink plastic buggy in front of him isn’t going to make him a nurturing parent, any more than it will make him gay to be frank. Both concerns seem to me to be rooted in social ignorance. This idea can only be reinforced when you realise how little you worry that your daughters enjoy playing with cars and planes.

On a personal level, after an afternoon at a public stay and play, where R spent an hour cuddling and feeding a baby doll, I decided to get him his own. Due to his sight, his developmental play has been somewhat behind, and this was the first instance of pretend play I had seen him take part in. I was delighted. We got him a blue ‘boy’ doll, (as if he knows the difference) and a pink stroller, mainly because it was cost-effective and cute looking. He loves putting the baby’s clothes on and off, taking him for walks in the stroller, and giving him cuddles and kisses.

Just in case that worries anyone, he also loves throwing the baby against the wall, building towers on its face, and discussing the football scores with him at length. At least that’s what I assume his babbling must be when he chats to it. They are both boys after all.



It’s a … Baby!

When I was pregnant with R, a million moons ago, it is no secret that C and I had a slight difference of opinion about whether we wanted a pink or a blue bundle.

Yes yes, I know, every baby is a blessing, and the main thing is that our precious bump was born healthy, but once you’re past that obvious wish that strikes your heart unawares when holding the pregnancy test and feeling like an omnipotent being for actually creating the potential of a person, you have 9 months left where the last thing you want to be thinking about is all the things that may cause your baby not to be healthy. A far less frightening conversation, is the prospect of football vs barbie dolls.

Somewhat unusually given the self centred nature of humankind, and in fact reproduction itself, I was desperate for a boy, and my better half had his heart set on a girl.

In order not to go into the delivery room with this split, and so that I never had to ask my husband the frankly awkward question of whether he was happy or not on the arrival of our firstborn child, we agreed to find out the only secret of pregnancy at our midway scan.

This didn’t bother either of us, as we are both of the opinion that having a ‘surprise’ to end off the pregnancy is a bit odd to begin with. Let’s put it this way, if and when they have the ability of telling you any other information about your child, I’m sure we all wouldn’t treat the data as anywhere near as sacred. Height? Weight? Hair Colour? GSOH? -shrugs- It just doesn’t really matter either way does it? We personally feel the same way about gender. Whichever way, we’re happy. Yes, we both have a preference, so why not find out, and then we can stop wondering and get down to the intricacies of the more important Big Naming Conversation.

Just as a side point, there is nothing more annoying than people who say “Oh no, we don’t want to find out, we just care that the baby is healthy.” I’m sorry, do you know something that we don’t? There is absolutely no correlation between finding out your baby’s sex and its current health. It will not make your baby either more or less healthy if you keep the gender a secret between God and the sonographer until it’s appearance. It doesn’t make you care about your unborn child more than those of us who choose to find out. It’s just a preference! By all means, enjoy having less information for 4 months more than we did, but please just say “We wanted a surprise” or “We didnt want to find out.”  Gesundheit.

Anyway, so as I was saying, we decided to put the mystery to an end at our 20 week scan, and were told in no uncertain terms that we were bringing a tiny man into the world. One look at my emotional husband and I knew I never would have had to ask the awkward question in the first place. We were both excited and overjoyed.

20 months later, and it looks like the joke was on me. My son is about as masculine as a pink fluffy pillow. He has the thickest curliest fastest growing hair of any child I know, he can only sit happily if he knows that all his toys have been tidied away and put in their right place. He hates mud, sand, or any form of stickiness or dirt, and he simply stands and looks terribly sad when faced with any form of provocation or bullying. He loves cuddles, he adores his baby doll and its pushchair, and to be honest? We just wouldn’t have him any other way.