We were at the public pool and this happened: Milo saw an Ariel (The Little Mermaid) doll at the side of the pool and said, “Whoa!” He grabbed it and started to play with it. Then the mother of the little girl whom the doll belonged to said to us, “Boys don’t play with dolls!”
Frank and I both said in unison, “Of course boys can play with dolls!”
Her daughter (maybe 5 years old) said to her mom, “Boys play with trucks. Girls play with dolls.”
The mother said quietly to her daughter, “I know.” She then asked us to leave the doll at poolside when we were done playing with it and swam off.
As Frank and I looked at each other with bewilderment, another mother with her son swam up to us to say, “Just to let you know, my son plays with dolls. That was the stupidest thing she could say!”
As much as we were astonished that the first mother actually said this to us, we were not that surprised. Gender-based toys and colours still seems to be an ongoing topic nowadays.
Just last year Target stopped gender labelling their toys. That of course had all the naysayers weighing in and voicing their opinions just how ridiculous it was. But is it really? Religious groups were calling for a boycott, asking their followers not to shop there. Now THAT is ridiculous.
Why are toys marketed toward girls in pink and mostly princesses? If a boy wants a princess doll, why is he labelled a “girl” or “gay”? Why are superheroes marketed mainly towards boys? Why is pink for girls and blue for boys?
Last year we were in a restaurant in Miami, feeding Milo from a pink bottle. A woman in her early 60’s was sitting next to us. She turned to us and said, “Oh I thought your baby was a girl because he has a pink bottle!” To which Frank replied, “We don’t believe pink is just for girls!”
Then she rolled her eyes so hard we thought they would get stuck in the back of her head and she turned around. There is nothing I love more than getting judged by complete strangers. (That was sarcasm by the way!)
As long as I can remember, I played Barbie with my sisters, and I also played with my Hot Wheels and He-Man figures. Although Frank used to hide his play with his sister’s Barbies, times were different back then. The “Free To Be…You And Me” album and song book by Marlo Thomas just came out, and that album helped open the minds of parents that it’s perfectly normal for a boy to play with a doll. In the song adaptation of “William’s Doll” with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, it explains:
“Explaining, William wants a doll
So when he has a baby someday
He’ll know how to dress it, put diapers on double
And gently caress it to bring up a bubble
And care for his baby as every good father
Should learn to do
William has a doll, William has a doll
’cause someday he is gonna be a father, too”
I am not quite sure why some parents are so against their boys playing with dolls, or taking dance, or even wearing pink. Do they really think this will make their son gay?
In our house there are no girly things or boy things. There aren’t even mommy jobs or daddy jobs. Is it because we are a gay dad family and so of course there are no specific gender roles? Regardless of gender, in any household, the laundry needs to get washed, the dishes need to get cleaned, diapers need to get changed, the lawn needs to get mowed. My favorite question is always, “So who does the mommy stuff?” which is immediately followed up by, “Oh, I didn’t mean it like that, but you know what I mean!”
Frank and I both are Milo’s father, mother, playmate, disciplinarian, and caregiver. But most important of all, we are his parents. Milo will continue to wear pink, play with dolls, vacuum and clean, be a ballerina if he chooses to. He will use his imagination with whatever toy he is playing with, because a toy is a toy. He loves his little baby just as much as he loves his trains. I think people need to stop over-reacting with the whole dolls are for girls and trucks are for boys thing. Just let your kids be who they are, play with what they want to play with. In the end, they will grow up to be the persons they are meant to be.
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