Girls Who Play With “Boy” Toys

by Latina Fatale on 11/02/2011 · 7 comments

in Parenting

Toys For Boys

I have always been just a little bit of tomboy. I have six brothers, so my mom’s and older sisters’ attempts to “feminize” me where met with much resistance early on in life. I wouldn’t dream of suffering the humiliation of wearing a dress! I just wanted to be “one of the boys” and I was so good at it that my female family members eventually surrendered and let me be who I wanted to be.

My girly side did eventually surface when I was a teenager, but I’ve always felt a little odd wearing a dress… how are you supposed to sit in them? Ha ha.

Anyway, my parents were pretty cool with me being a little “odd” (I guess when you have 9 kids, “odd” is just something you live with!) but I never really appreciated their acceptance of my un-girly behavior until I had a little girl of my own.

My daughter and I share the same birthday, so you would expect that we’d have somewhat similar personalities. However, while we are very much alike in many ways, one startling difference is that my five year old is the perfect PRINCESS! She goes gaga over anything pink and crosses her legs neatly when she sits in her flouncy tutu.

She is every bit as girly as I wasn’t, and I’m glad she has such an active imagination and can play “tea-party” for hours if uninterrupted. However, many times her imagination stretches outside her “castle” walls and she becomes the “Princess Architect” or the “Princess Mechanic”.

I think this is great. If she was COMPLETELY absorbed in her fairytale world, I would be a little worried about her mental health. However, her grandparents seem to have a different opinion.

When my daughter was a baby she had a bunch of toys passed on to her from her older cousins. Some of these toys were “boy” toys like play hammers, cars and Lego blocks. We lived with my husband’s family for a short while when my daughter was young, because we were saving up for a move.

During this time, my husband’s one year old nephew basically got “adopted” by his grandparents because his parents were working through a divorce and they weren’t being very mature about it.

Anyway, shortly after the little boy moved in, a few of my daughter’s cars started to go missing. I finally asked my mother-in-law about it, and she told me that Ty had “claimed” them. I told her that that was fine, as long as he put them away in my daughter’s toy box when he was done playing with them.

She told me, “Why don’t you just let him keep them? They’re boy’s toys, anyway; I don’t think Lydia would be that sad to see them go.” I didn’t really agree, but I felt a bit bad for Ty, since he didn’t have many toys with him, so I told her it was okay. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal.

However, after this things started getting a little crazy. Soon ALL my daughter’s slightly “unfeminine” toys were getting “claimed” and I was really flipping out wondering how I was going to confront the situation.

I finally brought it up, and instead of getting an apology or even just a good reason why this was happening, I basically got a scolding for the way that I was raising my daughter! My husband’s parents didn’t like the fact that I “wrestled” with my daughter (something we enjoy greatly to this day!) and allowed her to play with toys that were “obviously” made for boys. They argued that I would turn her into a little brute!!

I was flabbergasted! Luckily we moved out soon after so it never escalated to a full family feud, and one of the first things that I did when we moved was buy a new Lego block set for Lydia (because I love Lego!). But my in-laws still gave me dirty looks whenever they’d see my daughter come to their house with her new favorite Transformers toy.

Well, obviously, their fears were without ground, as now, 4 years later, my daughter is the epitome of lady-likeness. That is, unless she’s climbing trees so she can see her “kingdom” or “Slaying the Dragon” (her dad) in an epic wrestling match all while rocking a fabulous purple ballerina getup.

My point is, I really don’t think we should limit our children’s creative play because we have some weird idea about how it will affect them later in life. I really don’t think my daughter’s fascination with anything with wheels is going to dictate her sexual preferences when she’s an adult. When Ty comes over to play, he makes no differentiation between playing with Lydia’s cars, pushing the dolly in the stroller, or cooking up a storm with her tea set!

If his grandparents saw that, they’d probably freak out and tell me I’m trying to push some sort of alternate lifestyle on him. But, I just don’t understand how anyone could be against that kind of role playing. Since when did taking care of a baby or cooking become “gay”? We live in such a homophobic society, it’s ridiculous.

For all I know, Ty could grow up to be an AMAZING daddy or a world class chef! And my daughter could be heading up a company (or being the “princess” of a company) that carries the auto industry into the future!

What do you think? Should we really be limiting child’s play to what is “accepted” and “proper” of their gender? Or should we just let them be the amazingly creative and interesting individuals they are, before society sucks the “odd” out of them?

Stacey Cavalari is a technology specialist writer for Phoenix kiosk, a Kiosk Manufacturer firm in Tempe, AZ. Phoenix Kiosk specializes in custom kiosks for small to large size organizations.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsea November 6, 2011 at 12:09 am

I could not agree with you more! In my opinion there are no gender specific toys. We live in a world where men and women can choose an occupation not based on their gender but based on their talents. Furthermore, who cares if your son/daughter is gay? A family is a family we should try loving our children more and judging them less. Also how do toys have any kind of impact on our sexual orientation? Is the fact that a little girl plays with a tool set when shes little going to dictate who she chooses to spend the rest of her life? To that question I ask, did my favorite stuffed dinosaur toy tell me to like boys? No. Did my easy bake oven tell me to be a dutiful wife? No (but as an adult I still love cooking). My little brother used to dress up in my clothes when we were little (I am a girl) and it would drive our father crazy. My dad asked my brother about it one day and my brother said in a very matter-of-fact tone, “Were just playing Dad”. Our father never brought it up again because he felt so silly for getting upset in the first place. And my brother grew up and is now very happy with his girlfriend, not that our parents really wouldve cared either way cause they love us so much. I feel like people dont understand that children are children. Adults make adult decisions and children just do what they think is fun without over analyzing the situation (at least not as in depth as an adult does). You seem like a great mother and I am so happy I have found this great and intelligent blog. Thanks for writing.

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Sarah November 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

I’m the mother of three daughters and I’m all for climbing trees, shooting pretend bows and arrows, fighting like Jedi, building with lego and train-sets and doing all most anything else that is ‘stereo-typically’ boyish! I grew up with the freedom to play creatively without confinement and I believe it’s wonderful. It saddens me to see shops blatantly stocking train sets with little boys on the boxes (lots of girls love playing with trains & cars!).

I wrote a post on my frustrations about this years ago…
http://www.catchingthemagic.com/2006/12/stereotypical/

My youngest daughter, nearly two, is more naturally ‘girly’ – drawn to shiny, pretty things and floating materials with wings! She is nurturing and picks up dolls, teddies and gives them ‘love’. That’s just her – but she still plays with trains and builds with lego (just not with the avid passion of my first daughter).

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Wendy July 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm

and So What If A Kid Turns Out To be Gay? That Would Be Extra Cause FOr Celebration…But It Wouldn’t Have Anything To Do With Toys

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Donna C July 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm

I am so thrilled that you posted this :) Kids are kids, no matter what the gender <3

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Kari July 19, 2013 at 6:56 am

A woman was telling me how her nephew was looking at some dolls at a toy store once and she *made sure* to redirect him over to the boy toys right away. I asked her why, and she said responded by asking me what I would do. I told her I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all. She was shocked and said, “So, you think it’s okay to be gay?”
How did she get from me not having a problem with a boy playing with a doll to I think it’s okay to be gay? For the record, I don’t have a problem with anyone being LGBT. But why was that, to her, the logical conclusion in that situation? Why does a boy playing with a doll = gay? Also, if he is gay, is stopping him from playing with dolls going to change that?
I was totally flabbergasted by this conversation.

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Jessica July 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

I think you are doing great Mamma! I have two beautiful daughters and although they have embraced the “princess culture” they both have boy toys as well. My girls love trucks and cars, and have their own tool box (plastic tools). They also have babies and tea party accessories as well. And as you pointed out, in my daughter’s preschool, I’ve seen little boys play in the kitchen area and play dress up (yes in the princess costumes) too. They are kids, it’s imaginative play, and they are simply playing a role. At their age, they are testing out different roles: one day they will try being like Mommy, one day like Daddy, it doesn’t mean ANYTHING about their sexual orientation (as if that mattered). I’m so thankful that my daughter’s school encourages the kids to use their imagination rather than squelching it. I’m also lucky that my parents have encouraged my kids in their interests too and have bought them “boy” toys if they ask for them. I was a tomboy myself, so I firmly believe it is important to let kids be themselves and pursue their interests. I loved your post.

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Judy July 25, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Years ago my young daughter once told me she wanted the boy toy with her happy meal instead of the girl one. I asked her why and she said the girl toy didn’t do anything. The boy toy, however, had wheels or transformed into something or could fly, etc. From then on we always asked for the boy toy. She was completely right. The inflexible Barbie toy was boring and she got that. Her friend Max once gave her a transformer for her birthday and she loved it. His mom was mortified that he picked it out for her, but he told her he knew she’d like it and he was right. And his mom was right to let him go shopping and pick the toy. All the other boys at the party came with gifts selected and wrapped by their moms. They had no idea what was inside those pretty boxes. What did they learn about gift-giving from that?

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