Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gender Roles

As you know I have a son. Tybalt is almost 15 months old. My mother and I were talking on the phone a couple of days ago about what he might like for Christmas. Of course at this age, the question is really what he could use, or what Romeo and I would like him to receive for Christmas, as he's still too young to have a wish list.

I was suggesting bath toys, but beyond that I was at a loss for more ideas. His birthday was just in August, so I feel like he has enough toys right now. (Plus, Romeo and I have already bought a handful and put them aside for Christmas.)

My mother wanted to know if Ty would like a new stuffed animal. When my sister and I were young, she had Gladys, a stuffed pig, and I had Bruno, a stuffed bear, that we did EVERYTHING with. I told her he has lots of stuffed animals already and has never really taken to any of them. He plays with one or two occasionally but isn't like so attached that he has to drag a particular one around, or sleep with it, or anything like that.

That's when my mother suggested a baby doll. I paused. She said, "You know your father had one." I know that, but my father was also raised by his mother and three older sisters, so to me it's no surprise that he probably wanted one. I had to make a split-second decision, was it okay for my son to play with a baby doll? My mom could hear the hesitation and stated, "Well maybe he would be more interested in it than another stuffed toy because it's a human, with a face, instead of a funny looking plush animal."

And in the next second that passed I honestly decided that yes, a baby doll would be a good gift for Tybalt for Christmas. But I asked for her to find one that isn't just stuffed, but rather one that coos and make noises, and is supposed to suck a pacifier, and go to sleep on command, etc.

My thoughts are thus: It may be "unusual" for a little boy to play with a baby doll, but does that mean he can't? Just because something is not the norm does that mean it has be impossible? Why can't my son model what Mommy does to his own "baby." Don't I want my son to learn from an early age that boys can be caretakers and love children too? He has a wonderful father who takes such good care of him--don't I want him to learn those traits? What's wrong with him feeding the baby it's bottle? Or rocking it to sleep? (Side note, it might also help him go to sleep when he sees "his" baby is going to sleep too, because Tybalt has been occasionally fighting me on nap time lately.)

I've brought the idea up to my husband and he seems reluctant, somewhat surprised, but not vehemently opposed. I'll take that. After all, I was reluctant and somewhat surprised at the suggestion at first myself. And I think if it works the way I believe in my head that it will, it will be another thing that he later admits I was right about, like so many wife/husband decisions! (LOL.)

My main problem comes right now with my MIL. Every Christmas my parents, who still live in Chicago, send the presents straight to her house and we spend Christmas there and open them then. I am TERRIFIED that when she sees a baby doll, all sorts of judgmental comments will bubble out of her mouth. She raised two boys in the 70's and 80's. No way would they have played with a baby doll and is she going to even begin to grasp the concept.

I'm starting to think I should ask my parents to ship the gifts to our place this year and try to find the baby doll before we take the rest of the gifts over to MIL's. Then Tybalt can open it and play with it only here, and she'll never see it. What she doesn't know won't hurt her.

1 comment:

  1. I am all for gender bending. It is unfair to little boys to pigeonhole them before they know what they want for themselves. I had a male cousin who played with his two sisters barbies as a kid. He recently got married and had a baby girl and he is the manliest but kindest person I know. Nothing wrong with it!