My name is Andrea, and I bought my son a doll. There, I said it. You would’ve thought I bought him a machine gun. Wait. Perhaps that would be more acceptable, more masculine.
Zach plays with his stuffed animals by cradling them and hugging them as if they are babies, but yet when he gets close to a human, he swats and bats at faces, inflicting pain. I thought about it, and thought perhaps a doll that looked more like a baby would help him. He could do some role play and learn to be gentle and nurturing.
I knew his dad would hate the idea, so I knew better than to buy him a doll that was dressed in a frilly pink outfit or had bows in her hair. That really would have been pushing the envelope. What I needed was a masculine-looking doll. A doll that looked like a boy, was dressed like a boy. A less girly doll. Yeah. Have you ever tried to find anything that has anything to do with traditionl domestic role play that is not pink and frilly and…..grrrrrrr. Toy vaccuums, shopping carts, kitchens. Toy mops and brooms, dishes. All of them. Why? My real vaccuum isn’t pink. My dishes aren’t, either. My stove, refrigerator….none of it is pink. Why in the hell are we doing this to our children?
So after scouring the internet and finding nothing, I gave up on the doll. Until last week. We were at Toys ‘R’Us when I saw a boy Cabbage Patch Kid. I had been looking at the dolls, reliving memories of my childhood. I had been the first on my block to get one when they first came out. Parents were getting in fist fights over the dolls, and my mom was right in the middle of that. The limit to buy was 10, and she bought all 10 to give to the girls in the family as Christmas presents. But not me. I got one of mine that day. I’ll never forget it. His name was Earl. He had on a blue cuorduroy outfit, was bald with big blue eyes. I was remembering all of this and thinking if I knew a little girl who would want one. As I moved the boxes around, looking at the different dolls, I saw the boy way in the back. A doll. No pink. Big blue eyes like Zachy’s.
And I bought it. The boy doll I had been looking for all of that time. We brought him home and I took him out of the box. His name is Kelton. And I handed him to Zachy, who promptly hugged him and put the doll next to him on the seat of his Cozy Coupe. Success.
Until I absentmindedly posted something on Facebook about, “Yay! I found the boy doll I was looking for for Zachy.”
I started getting e-mails. The phone rang a few times. People, who shall remain nameless and were too cowardly to post anything publically on Facebook, have a serious problem with this. Finally, John, who was with me when I bought it and had no protest then, is making snide comments when Zach so much as looks at the doll. I am going to confuse Zach. I am going to upset the balance. I am going to —GASP!—TURN HIM GAY!!!!! (These aren’t John’s words, but some of the comments I got from others.)
Zach and Evan are growing up in a family where the mom is the breadwinner and has the career, is on the fast track to an MBA. Their dad does the laundry, the cleaning. He runs the vacuum about three times a day (don’t ever get chocolate-brown area rugs, people–they show every speck of lint!) and washes the dishes. We split the cooking. He is the one to taxi Ev to and from school. To the point that one time, we went to a school function and one of the other mothers mentioned that she thought we were divorced because she never sees Evan’s Mommy. I believe there are inherent diferences between men and women. Some of it is put upon us by society. Some of it is hard-wired by biology. Both nature and nurture win. A prime example? I love pink. I like smelling like flowers. I hate getting dirty. You would never catch me fishing because I will not handle a fish. I hate most sports, other than college football. I watch chick flicks and cry when the situation calls for it. My husband can bench press a lot more than I can. But I am driven, aggressive, down-to-business. If you piss me off, I will let you know. If you are wrong, I’ll let you know that, too. I hate bullshit and will not allow you to dish it to me. I multi-task with the best of them.
Do not ever make the mistake of telling me something is not my job because I am a woman. Other than peeing while standing, I doubt there is anything I could not learn to do. Hell, if I were willing and had some practice, I could probably even manage that one. And if there is nothing I cannot do, and it is unacceptable to place me in a little stereotypical box, then it is certainly unacceptable to do so to either of my children at a time when they are growing and developing and learning who they are. At some point, they will choose the paths they want to take. They may be gay or straight. They may choose to play in dirt or stay indoors and bake cupcakes. They may be construction workers, chefs, teachers, doctors, lawyers. Presidents of the United States. Or they could choose to stay home and be caregivers to their children while supporting their significant other so he or she can go out and kick ass in the world.
Just like I can do whatever I want, so can they. And whatever they choose, it will have not one damned thing to do with a doll I bought them while they were a toddler.