Braden loves all things boy, almost innately. He loves cars, trucks, superheroes, tools, trains, etc. It amazed me how he was attracted to these things, without me even trying to force it. Of course, once we realized his interests, we reinforced it by buying even more cars, trucks, superheroes, tools, trains, etc. But our den/playroom didn't start off as a car-park. It just evolved into one.
But you know what else he likes?
He loves dolls. He loves dollhouses. He loves pink (his current favorite color). He loves watching me put on my make up and then trying to put it on himself. He loves my jewelry and wearing bracelets and blow drying my hair. He frequently asks me if I can paint his nails (pink, of course).
For a while I didn't encourage these behaviors. I don't know, I didn't know what the "right" thing to do was. I mean, he's a boy, right? So if he asks me to put on make up, then shouldn't I say no? Shouldn't I tell him that "make up is for girls?"
I almost said that once. But then I stopped myself, because it didn't seem right. I mean, some men do like make up. And if he happens to end up being one of those men, I don't want to give him a complex about it, or imply that there is something wrong with that.
All of these girl versus boy stereotypes are really antiquated, if you ask me. And they seem to be based on two really disgusting assumptions:
1) Sexism: That a boy acting like a girl is something bad. We don't get upset when girls are tomboys, or when girls want to wear blue, or play with a truck. But for some reason, we shouldn't allow our boys to take on any feminine qualities.
2) Homophobia: That by allowing our boys to like pink, or play with dolls, or whatever the "girly" activity, that they will inevitably steer to the "dark side" - that they will become gay, and that there is something inherently wrong with that.
It seems I'm not the only one getting annoyed by this. Just yesterday, I read an article on CNN about a young girl who is championing a petition on Change.org to encourage Hasbro to engage in gender neutral toy marketing. Apparently, this twelve year old girl has a younger brother who wants an Easy Bake oven. When she was shopping for it, she realized that there were no boys featured on the packaging, and that they only came in "gender specific hues - purple and pink." She told CNN:
"I'm sure there are a lot of kids out there like my brother who want Easy-Bake ovens but don't ask for them because they're not supposed to want them," she said. "There's a lot of toys specifically marketed towards boys and girls, but guys need to learn to cook and take care of children, too." (See quote here).
Amen to that.
Braden already has a kitchen, actually, and it's red. But he has been wanting a dollhouse for forever, and this year, for Christmas, Santa's going to give it to him.
I don't know who Braden will eventually become, what his interests will be, or where his passions will lie. But for now, I'm going to follow his lead. So a dollhouse it is.