I bought my son a baby doll…and it’s rocking my own sense of identity

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he picked dolly out and wouldn’t let her go

My hunt for weather-appropriate clothes (on sale) at Fred Meyer left me wandering dejectedly through the toy aisles. I thought that I might come across something fun to add to the collection (because Scrummy has chewed up a few of the play foods that I bought most recently), and Potamus got really excited in the cart and pointed at the dollies. I picked one up and asked, “do you want this?” and his response was a very definitive “YEAH,” and he hugged her tight (yes, I’m associating a female gender to the doll because she’s dressed in pink. Sue me). Fortunately Dolly was only $2.99 because some dolls are really expensive and I didn’t feel like shelling out $20 for an experimental toy (not knowing if his definitive ‘yeah’ meant ‘YEAH’ or he was just excited in the moment, like he does with snack-time). But Dolly, as we’ve named her, has been a permanent fixture in our house for 30 hours now.

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I know the psychological benefits of boys playing pretend with dolls and other ‘typical girl’ toys like play food and stuffed animals. I read blogs where boys have long hair, or play with dolls, or wear skirts to Home Depot with their dads. I loved that he picked this toy on his own, and has been so lovingly attentive to her. He’s pretended to feed her, wants help wrapping her in a swaddle, and has laid her in a little box for a bed. He snuggled with her all last night, even when he came into our bed. I think it’s so sweet to see him holding her so lovingly while watching TV or eating dinner.

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So, with all of this sweet happiness that I’m feeling in my gut when I look at this innocent little boy with his dolly, do I feel a little twang or twinge after today’s outing to KidsQuest? While nothing was said overtly, I did notice that people noticed…if that makes sense. Most of the moms I encountered seemed to have a wistful ‘awe, how sweet’ look on their face. And dads seemed to be thinking ‘is that a boy carrying a doll?’ though I wouldn’t say their looks were judgmental or hostile, but more…surprised? And then there was the older restuarant worker who almost fell over his own feet staring at Potamus and Dolly while getting back to his shift. He was smiling, but also seemed…perplexed?

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Now, I don’t want to be over-analyzing every little experience we have in the future. Because I can’t read minds, and these people could certainly just have been admiring my adorable son, rather than thinking about the fact that he’s carrying a baby doll. After all, if I notice this, then maybe it’s because I feel uncomfortable? Why am I letting my son carry a doll? Is it some political statement? Is it my way of rebelling and giving the gender stereotype marketing a big eff-you finger? Or is it because he so sweetly asked for it and seems to love it more than he’s loved any other toy?

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Potamus and Dolly eating some lunch at Panera.

Have you let your son/daughter play with ‘opposite gender’ toys? How did it make you feel? How did it make you feel in public when your child wasn’t ‘gender conforming’ for any reason?

Treasure Box

The other day, on my favorite offbeatmama.com, there was a featured article about creating treasure baskets for infants. The ideas were AWESOME! While at my mother-in-law’s house, we scoured around to find a bunch of sensory items for Potamus to play with and put them in an old Zappos box that was heading to the great recycle bin in the sky.

Take a minute and think about the toys that we provide for our infants, they are mostly plastic and feel/taste the same. Boring! The Treasure basket allows you to create a base basket full of 20-30 multi-textured, multifaceted, objects for your baby to explore daily for about half an hour to an hour. Eventually the basket can contain up to 60-80 objects as you slowly build more items to keep the baby interested.

Things that I included in Potamus’ treasure box are:

  • rubber spatula,
  • one of those cloth geckos filled with sand
  • a clear plastic cup
  • an altoid-type tin
  • orange juicer
  • lots of different color ribbons tied to an old Fisher Price drum-stick
  • 2 large squares of felt (different colors)
  • bow from a Christmas package
  • I also add into the mix a few of the toys we’ve brought with him that day, like his Sophie Teething toy, or his lovey

Oh my how he enjoys it. He’s been dumping the box out, putting stuff back in, waving the wand to and fro, banging the juicer on the tin, etc. This has been a welcome relief for me, since he has been SOOOPER fussy in the past week. This treasure box has entertained him for some good chunks of time.

To check out the full article: http://offbeatmama.com/2012/08/heuristic-play