Monday, December 31, 2012

A Christmas Rant




(I want to preface this post by saying that I am INCREDIBLY grateful for every single member of my family, including all members of my husband’s family. They are all incredibly generous to our children and I am so, so happy that my kids experience that kind of love. I encourage you to keep reading through the rant… I promise it gets better!)


From the moment my children began opening Christmas presents this year (yes, even the ones at our house) I began the internal, ranting monologue. Really, it began while shopping for presents. I shunned all things pink for my daughter, and thought it was cute when my son’s Christmas list was “Hot Wheels” and “My Little Ponies.” My husband and I found him what was really the only acceptable MLP on the market, and he promptly threw it aside in favor of his new Mobigo 2. After all, my husband was a Brony. My brother played MLP with me… they are just horses. Horses are for kids. Then I endured weeks of self-inflicted guilt over the fact that unforeseen circumstances turned the play kitchen that was meant for both kids into a present for my daughter. I wrongly assumed that once they opened their gifts on St. Nick’s day, my torment was over. Oh no. It had yet to begin.


From December 6th and on, we had a total of five Christmases. I am going to give you a brief, and not at all inclusive list of items my kids received to illustrate a point. (This list includes things that I picked out, so I am a full participant in the madness.




My Son:


· Hot Wheels (oh, the Hot Wheels.)

· Hot Wheels accessories

· My Little Pony

· Hulk fists

· Puzzles

· Mobigo2

· Shaving kit

· Books





My Daughter:


· Bracelets

· Vanity

· 2 baby dolls

· Tea set

· 2 pillows

· Hot Wheels

· Shirt that says “Self-Rescuing Princess”

· Books








Now, let me walk you through my thought process. If you read this page, you know that I am a firm believer that toys and colors are for everyone. I think this meme that I have seen floating around Facebook accurately describes my feelings on the matter (even if I do not seem to be able to purchase accordingly):












So I will freely admit that I had a panic attack when the first four presents my daughter opened were a kitchen, two baby dolls and a tea set. My beautiful, thoughtful, smart and capable 15-month old was having a feminist’s nightmare of a Christmas! I know. Girls like these things. Baby dolls encourage nurturing. Cooking and tea parties are innocent and should be devoid of gendered meaning. When I think of all the talk shows featuring teenage girls who lack guidance and love in their lives and want to have a baby to love at 14*, I panic at the thought of our little girls pushing fake babies that pee around in prams. Can’t we give them a little more time to be children before impressing on them that first they must be nurturing, then shoving birth control at them so that they can have consequence free sex until they find the right guy? (Breathe, breathe, I know, I know…) so I am looking at her hug and squeeze these babies with love and a sparkle in her eye and I just want to cry. In the moment, I choose to ignore that my amazing Grandma bought me a Cabbage Patch doll when I was about the same age and that she just wanted to buy my daughter one also. My son waits until she drops the dolls and the tea set to peruse his haul of cars and books so that he can play with the bad-ass tea set and check out the dolls. This makes me laugh, and I made a mental note to write a post about this Christmas and my struggles, but for now I was going to watch them enjoy Christmas.


As the days went on, the children truly had the time of their lives. By the time we made the long journey home and unpacked everything, it was Christmas all over again! This time I had a more level head as I watched them tear into their new possessions. First, I needed to remember that they are just kids, and kids like toys… of all kinds. Second, I realized that I was totally fine letting my son play with toys that are branded “girlie”, so why couldn’t my daughter play with the same toys? Why can’t she choose what she likes?! Third, all of these things are harmless in a well-rounded environment, and our home is just that. We do not have violent or sexualized toys. The kids are encouraged to share all their toys with each other, and they play side by side. Currently, the favorite is making tea in the kitchen. (Mad props to my cousin Rachel…. That tea set is something I never would have thought to get, and it is by far the most popular of the Christmas haul!)


I really am nothing short of grateful for all the thoughtful and wonderful gifts my family chose for my kids. I spend every day with my children and I think I know everything about them. I know their likes and dislikes, and yet our family always finds the most wonderful things that I never would have thought to purchase, and the kiddos swoon! All my personal beliefs about how we market things to our children are still there and worthy of our attention, but this Christmas gave me a nice healthy dose of perspective, and that might be the best gift I could have hoped to receive! I think I will save my outrage for the overtly violent and sexualized toys that are lurking in their future, and savor the moment.


(* I am not referencing teen parents in general with this post. As the daughter of a teen mom, there is a gigantic difference between teen that choose life for their children (see my post for The Guiding Star Project) and young teens that lack the love and support everyone deserves in life and have the misguided view that the only route to unconditional love in their lives is to purposely have a child when they are still children themselves. I have encountered youth in my life that believe this, and all it takes is a quick search engine check and you can see all the evidence you never want to know proving that this trend exists outside of talk shows. As always I advocate for life, love and support for all women, and creating/maintaining a world that supports women and their children always. Just to be clear... in all fairness, the many reasons I have an aversion to baby dolls deserves a post of its own!)

2 comments:

  1. I feel a similar ... twinge... when watching my daughter play with her kitchen and pretend to vacuum. But as a toddler teacher I know that these things encourage imaginative play and feeds their intelligence. So even though they seem to fulfill gender stereotypes, it won't actually be detrimental to them or their worth as human beings. I was a tom boy growing up and much preferred the cars and the legos so Cupcakes also got blocks and cars as gifts. :) I love the graphic you have in this post!! So funny! :)

    Happy New Year!

    Jamie
    For Love of Cupcakes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jamie, you are completely correct there! I think the point that I forget too often, is that my son does these things also... he pretends to wash his hands in the fake kitchen and likes to help me around the house also! I am not saddling my daughter with the belief that she should be confined to housework because she is a girl, I am allowing them to play pretend and nothing more. It is a journey for me. ;) A happy New Year to you and your family as well!

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