I am so sick of this debate, but this controversy over the new Lego line has me fuming. You can read about it here, because I just can’t take it, anymore:
Let’s tackle the ad from the 1980′s. Does anyone remember Legos from back in the day? They were primary blocks that fit together to make whatever the child wanted. It was a truly neutral toy that helped child with a multiple of developments. Then something happened. I am not sure, but I know I was perplexed when I first started seeing the specific sets where it seemed you could only build one thing. I remember thinking where is the fun in that? I didn’t make a huge fuss. I didn’t stand on the nearest train table in Toys R Us and scream, “Why are you denying girls the joy of Legos?!” You know why? Because I had sense to know that not every child is the same and not every girl played with princesses or, hold onto your hats for this one, some girls liked playing with both princesses and cars. Oh the horror, letting the kids choose which toys they could choose.
Somewhere along the way, Princesses became the enemy. How dare girls pretend to be princesses, play tea party, nurture dolls or the other evil things that have been sent by the all mighty toy companies to get our girls subservient to The Man. Then it went further. It has now become a social status for parents, mostly Moms, to shout from the rooftops that their sons play with dolls and paint their nails and their daughters are playing in dirt with cars and trucks. All over the Internet you can find mommy blogs proclaiming how great they are, because their children have no gender. There are parents going so far as not letting others know the exact gender of their child. What I want to know is why? Are we so ashamed of boys that we need to turn them more feminine? Do we hate all things girly that we just have to breed a generation of girls that are more masculine than the boys in their class? What is the point?
The problem with this is that these parents are forgetting that kids have choices, too. What prevents a little girl choosing an alien to build from the many that Lego offers? I don’t remember any toy police in the Target toy section telling me my girls weren’t allowed to look at these toys, much less buy them. I don’t remember Amber getting tackled and having the Harry Potter Lego ripped from her hands when she made the purchase a year ago. So why the big fuss? As far as I can tell Lego has, finally, opened it’s eyes and given girls more choices. I will admit I was drawn to the new Lego Friends toys, myself. I liked the colors and the cute little kitchen and spa. Amber not so much. She is more interested in her Liv dolls with the spa, she recently purchased on Black Friday at Target last year.
I have the perfect little Science experiment going on in my home. I have an older daughter, who went through the princess phase, but was given the choice of what she wanted to play with. Sure her toys were mostly pink and girly, but there were a few cars thrown in there which she chose. Now as a 9 yr old, she is the only girl playing the trumpet in her music class in the sea of boys playing the same instrument. She is in cheerleading. Loves Harry Potter more than any boy I have met. She still loves to do her hair, her dolls’ hair and have her nails done. I don’t see her love of Princesses hurting her in the least. As a matter of fact, a recent event showed that she has no problem speaking her mind when she told some boys from the neighborhood that she was done playing with them, because they kept cursing. If anything the choices that were afforded her gave her the strength to continue to make her own choices whether they went with the grain or not.
Then I have Sam. A boy coming 4 years after his older sister. He came into a world of pink and Princesses. My feeling is that most babies start out gender neutral, because they don’t really have a voice for their opinion. Besides, their main focus is keeping their butts clean and eating. So most baby to toddler toys are pretty much played by both sexes. However, once those babies hit toddlerhood they start to gravitate toward their interests. Sam started refastening many of Amber’s toys into guns, cars and flying objects. Sure he would pick up a baby doll and give it a hug, then a few seconds later it would be discarded for something he found more interesting. The one thing I found fascinating about Sam was that he would sit and actually have imaginative play. Amber wasn’t much for imaginative play. She used the toy how it was intended and when she was bored she moved to the next toy. Sam would involve dinosaurs and pirates into his Batman cave. There would be elaborate stories involving the Batman Cave and the Dragon Castle. And somehow he incorporated Amber’s Barbie dogs into all this play. He had a slight obsession with them. We never made a conscience effort not to buy Sam guns, but he, eventually, gravitated toward weaponry. Whether it was his finger or a Barbie doll he would point it at someone and say, “Bang! Bang!” It would be much later that he would get his first space gun and drive us all crazy. But don’t think the gender neutral debate has won just yet. Since Sam was with me most of the time, he would often grab the shopping cart and purple purse and go shopping. Amber and him would play shopping and he would use his debit card that was pulled from his purse. Why? Because it was what he saw. Sure SoHubby was a little perturbed by this, but I let it go. I knew that he was fine and just playing what he saw. No biggie. And once Evie came along and Amber decided to dress her up as a fairy, Sam joined in the fun. It lasted a few minutes and then he went back to what interested him. Once again, choices. Now, I have a little boy that wants to be a cheerleader like his big sister, loves to hug the girls and loves to play tag with the boys and all things superheroes.
Lastly, we have Evie. At only 2.5 years old, she has gone between cars, dinosaurs, superheros to baby dolls, and her recent discovery of the Princesses. There is a whole playroom for her to choose from. Never once has there been a line drawn saying these are the BOY toys and these are the GIRL toys. There has been choices. Why can’t kids have choices? Sure there are some people who are adamant about their boy not having anything to do with “girly” stuff, but is it really that rampant? Then there comes a time when children naturally start pairing off with the same sex parent. Sam has started doing this and loves to go off with his Daddy. And why not? That doesn’t mean the girls are left in the dust. There are times when Amber goes off with Daddy, too. I can’t say that I would be comfortable bringing Sam to the nail salon, only because he doesn’t like his nails cut or people putting anything on them. I can’t say that I would be all that gung ho to have his nails painted pink,anyway, but I am not going to deny him the pleasure of a foot massage or soaking in a hot foot bath. Why can’t he enjoy those things? The last time I checked the nail salons weren’t turning away anyone who was willing to pay for their services.
The point is there are 2 sexes (and I know even me admitting this is controversial) in this world and they both have their purpose. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have choices. We are bombarded with choices everyday that are made due to our upbringing, social status, financial ability, gender, and a myriad of other reasons. To say that Lego Friends is teaching girls that they are only pretty and only good for baking, primping and drinking coffee (which I didn’t know was a female sport) is insulting to me as a parent. It means that I have no influence. That I am not talking to my kids. That I am not supervising their growth into this world. It is saying that I am letting a lump of plastic determine the future of my children. I hate to break it to you, but I have more influence over my kids then a $20 toy that I happen to pick up on a whim.