When I catch Quinn saying phrases that aren't typical toddler phrases, it makes me aware of the phrases I clearly use frequently. Like the time I was changing his diaper at 4am one day while on vacation at a friends house and Q said to me "Mommy, they have square windows, how funny is that?" Needless to say, at 4am very little is actually funny. But, if any part of the event was, it was hearing that phrase come out of his mouth. "How X is that" is clearly a phrase I use often.
Which brings me to the question: how uptight is that? Or, how uptight am I, to be more accurate. In general, I like to think of myself as open minded, and definitely as someone who really believes that an important part of my role in raising a child is to be a facilitator, as in, facilitating him to really fully become who he is, to bring his truest and best self into the world. So, I was a bit disappointed to note some weird societal hangup I've got rearing it's head when Quinn informed me that he wants a house for Christmas. (In truth, Q first informed me that he wanted a house for his birthday, but this was after he had already opened his birthday gifts. Upon being informed that a house wasn't one of the presents that we had for him, he suggested that I go to the house store to get one.)
To some degree I was just surprised by the request as, while I've seen him occasionally play with toy houses when we're in stores or at someone's house, it's by no means been a particularly notable interest. But, more than surprise was some weird notion of what kind of toys boys should ask for. What the "right" toys for boys are. He has a wide range of toys right now - lots of trucks, blocks, puzzles, a toy kitchen and a veritable zoo worth of stuffed animals. But, somehow the idea of a 'house' (here, in the interest of full disclosure, I recognize that my inability to call it a 'doll house' is really stupid) initially made me really uncomfortable. Somehow I associate a house as a toy clearly in the girl realm, even though there are plenty of houses that are clearly designed to be gender-neutral (ie the ones that aren't pink and covered in flowers.)
Luckily, after relating this story to my dear friend Cristina, she pointed out that boys really need to have some gender-neutral toys, and have opportunities to 'play' versions of their real lives. (In retrospect, I view this as a very polite way to tell me that I was being an idiot.) While it was certainly disappointing to note how ridiculously caught up I was in some rigid notion of gender roles, it was nice to know I have friends who will tell me when I'm being stupid.
The more I've thought about my initial reticence, the more I've thought how incredibly stupid it was and find it quite frankly a bit embarrassing to admit that I had any issue with this at all. I've now spent hours on the web scouring for just the right play house, and think I'm going to get this one or this one.
I guess it's one of those things where it's easy to think of yourself a certain way (ie I like to think of myself as a feminist) but then it just takes a little situation like this to force me to recognize that some of my self concepts might not inherently run as deep as I might like. At the same time, blogging about it has actually served the typical journaling purpose of making me question myself a bit, challenge my thinking and maybe find myself just a wee bit more enlightened at the conclusion.
What's particularly hard for me as I think about many of my unconscious ideas of what's right for kids is that I really believe that there are more 'rules' in my mind for boys. I can't think of a toy that a girl could ask for that would give me pause, but somehow I realize that as open-minded as I think I am, I obviously have some pretty clear ideas about what boys do and don't do. Ultimately, I guess this probably relates to the broader societal discussion of the trap men fall into where we want them to be guys guys, but at the same time be kind and thoughtful, and just the rigid roles men are still often expected to play. I guess it all starts with moms who hesitate to buy play houses for their sons :)
Obviously this is a much bigger topic to explore, but good food for thought.