Yesterday, my son received a great gift from his Great-Uncle and Aunt: an interactive play yard. He had a blast with it, and it was so much fun for me too, getting to see him interact with objects and learn about cause-and-effect. But it got me thinking. This is only the first in a long series of toys I'm going to watch him play with. As a woman, a fairly girly woman at that, and one with no brothers growing up, I have no experience with "boy" toys. Sure, I played with Matchbox cars when I was really little, but most of my childhood was about Barbies, Rainbow Brite and playing dress-up. Am I going to cut it when it comes to playing with my son?
It could turn out that the toys he chooses will be gender-neutral- or who knows, even stereotypically "girly" (and if that happens, I won't discourage him) but chances are, there are Transformers, dinosaurs and guns in my future. I just don't get any of those things.
Transformers: What's the appeal of something that turns into something else? Who needs the option when you're always going to have a favorite version?
Dinosaurs: Cool, and can lead to lessons about history, but not something I'd ever obsess over as some little boys seem to.
Guns: Definitely not for me. I hate guns. But there was a story recently about the deaf boy who wasn't allowed to use the special sign for his name because it looked like a finger pointing a gun. In the wake of that, some research came out that boys naturally start playing "gun"- using their fingers, arms and voices to make gun motions and sounds- even when they've had little to no exposure to the real thing. Am I on board with that, or will I discourage it because it makes me so uncomfortable? I'm not sure.
Fortunately, my son does have a father who played with plenty of boy toys, and will probably be able to pick up my slack in this area. I can always stick to arts and crafts, reading and baking cookies. But I hope I'll learn to love what my son loves, even if its not something I'm naturally inclined toward. Childhood is so fleeting, and I want to make the most of it by spending time with my son doing what he loves to do. I'm grateful that right now, that means watching him kick, grab and learn!