Hannah is a girl and has girly toys including dolls, bags, a play kitchen, a play vanity stand and so on. Liam is a boy and his room is filled with boy toys like cars, robots, soldier figurines, plastic tools, a carpenter’s stand and so on. You get the picture, right?
Since forever, they have played happily together, sometimes in her room and sometimes in Liam’s room. They swop toys, they take turns and everyone is happy. Recently my husband has decided that he doesn’t want Liam playing with dolls or carrying handbags. This breaks my heart a little – the kid is four, so what if he wants to hold a dolly or play dolly house with his sister? I really don’t see the big deal. In turn, surely this should mean that Hannah should not be allowed to play with his “boy” toys? What message are we sending if we allow her full use of his things, yet we restrict him from playing with any of her things?
Also, why is it easier to accept that your daughter may be a tom-boy and we all laugh about that, but the idea that your son may like dolls is sacrilege? Why are men wired so differently to women – and why can’t we just agree that playing with a doll is just THAT – playing with a doll. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s not a sign to anything, and it most definitely is not the end of the world!
I am torn between letting him just play with whatever he wants to play with (especially when Daddy isn’t around but I don’t want to confuse the kid and besides that’s like doing things behind Daddy’s back which opens a whole other can of worms), and keeping a united front with my husband and agreeing with him in front of the children. I’ve had the discussion with my husband and it’s a no-go: hear yeh, hear yeh, there will be no boys playing with dolls in this house! Liam is well aware of certain things that boys (in our house) don’t do – nail polish is for Hannah only, only Hannah and Mom have pierced ears (he is HORRIFIED when he sees pictures of his younger Dad with TWO pierced ears nogal), and we get to wear lipgloss but he only gets to wear “Lip-Ice” (lip balm). So yes, perhaps I have indoctrinated SOME gender specific aspects already I guess. But always in a way that they understand – like how only Daddies shave their faces because only Daddies grow long beards, or only Daddies and boys pee standing up and mommies and girls pee sitting down. You know, in ways that make sense in their little minds for valid reasons – like can you even imagine if Hannah had to pee standing up, it just wouldn’t work, right? And of course, that makes sense, so they agree.
To compound the issue, we’ve had this conversation with lots of friends and it seems there is a complete divide between moms and dads. Moms are cool with their little boys playing with girly toys and all the Dads are horrified at the idea. Dolly house is just role playing for goodness sake – kids wanting to be like mommy and daddy. And it’s a bit ridiculous to lay down this law at home, when at school and at church, boys and girls play together – whether in the dolly corner or riding bikes wildly outside and it is considered absolutely fine. Let the child, on their own, get to an age where they are able to distinguish between the different roles that people play. But all this fussing just creates more drama than is even necessary at this age as far as I am concerned – creating more questions and confusion in the mind of the child.
This is the first time ever that I have thought that parents with same sex children do have it a bit easier! Generally, there will only be one category of toy in that house depending on the sex of the kids, right? And because Liam and Hannah are so close in age, they do generally play together with the same toys. They haven’t yet reached that age where he goes off and plays with his toys, while she does her own thing in her own room. They do everything together. Parenting is so difficult – finding the balance between firmly guiding them in the way they should go, and becoming completely Nazi over silly things is intricate and complex. There is such a delicate line between getting it right or completely screwing it up, isn’t there?!