The Girly Thing
My granddaughter, at the ripe old age of eighteen months is being indoctrinated into a life of drudgery.
And I'm helping.
When a toddler sees her mother do something on a regular basis, the natural tendency is to imitate, so it's not unusual to see my granddaughter teetering around her home, dishtowel in hand, "scrubbing" everything within her reach. When visiting my home, she goes right for the broom and wields it like a mini buccaneer, while we all duck for cover, hoping to avoid getting smacked with the swaying handle. We all think it's adorable, and a little odd, that Charlotte is so tidy, lord knows that particular attribute didn't come from my side of the gene pool.
Charlotte is the only grandchild in my little family and we are obnoxiously smitten, all of us. We watch every move she makes with wonder and delight, so when it came to opening gifts Christmas morning, all eyes were on our girl. She's starting to understand the whole unwrapping idea, and she does so with intent, tearing off pieces of wrapping paper slowly and walking each piece, no matter how minute, to the trashcan, encouraged along the way by us...her own personal cheerleaders. We understand this is a cute little phase that toddlers go through - and the praise she's receiving encourages her to keep at it...but I am beginning to wonder what the hell we're thinking!
As I looked around the room after the Christmas gift-giving it started to dawn on me that there was a bit of a theme going on here in regards to my granddaughter...
Santa brought her this - and she adores it.
Her liberal, feminist grandmother (me) gave her this:
I raised two sons and a daughter and I understand that no matter how hard a parent may try to avoid buying gender stereotypical gifts, boys tend to gravitate toward what is marketed as a "boy" item, and little girls are attracted to "girl" toys, even at a very young age. This may have something to do with marketing and commercialism, but I don't think the toy companies are to blame, or that there is really any blame to be assigned. When my daughter was little she'd willingly join her brothers in making muddy little roads and ditches in the backyard and could crash the trucks and cars into each other with the best of them - sound effects and all (oh, I loved the sound effects), but after a while, Barbie would beckon and off my little girl would go, abandoning the mud villages for another world, the one where things are clean and pretty.
We know better, nowadays than to take a doll away from a boy, a toy truck or an action figure from a little girl, but still, I surprised myself for buying into the girly thing so early in Charlotte's life. Sure, pots and pans are more gender neutral than a lot of things, but let's get real here...the package that the pots and pans came in had a picture of a little girl on the box - the very pink box. I'm not regretting my choice of gift for my granddaughter, nor am I judging the choices her parents made, but I am going to pare it back, for now. There will be a lot more books and blocks and games coming from this grandmother in the next few years...Charlotte has plenty of time to discover who she is and what she likes and it will be my pleasure to watch her figure it all out, whether Barbie likes it or not.