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DADult Life | December 2, 2022

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How would you react to a stranger questioning your son’s toy choice?

Boys toys

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was surprised to see just how early on the idea of what boys and girls can and can’t do is formed. It was at a party when Roma went to play with a toy car, at which point a slightly older girl of around four or so said, in a nutshell, it’s a boy’s toy so girls shouldn’t go near it.

Regardless of what notion some parents may be leading their kids to believe, I certainly won’t be solely dishing dolly after dolly out to Roma just because she’s a girl. If she wants a car, football or otherwise then so be it. I have no intention of uttering any such phrases like: “That’s for boys, so no.”

My thought process wasn’t on its own either, as people shared their approaches too: 

Clearly, there are parents on the same page I am and don’t believe in pigeonholing their children. But could you imagine if a stranger walked up to your little one and told them otherwise? Questioning their choices?

A friend was recently shopping in Tesco with her five-year-old son who just so happens to have a doll. She was so gobsmacked and incensed by the experience that she poured out her thoughts on Facebook.

Frustrated and bewildered by what I read, I asked if I could share what happened and she agreed, so here’s the account in full below. Hopefully this will prompt people to think twice before questioning a child, or parent, for something that not only isn’t their business, but also not hurting anyone.

Here’s what happened…

I’m sure you all know by now (because of my many rants) that my ultimate pet hate is stereotypical, sexist, judgemental views on the toys children play with. Drew loves playing with his doll and it is genuinely beautiful to watch how kind, caring and thoughtful he is with it. Today we went to numerous shops and Baby came with us in his car seat and buggy, Drew got him in and out of the car seat at each pit stop, saying ‘no thank you’ if I offered to help him because it’s his baby and his job to look after it. He asked when it was lunch time and if we could go home then because Baby would need his lunchtime bottle and he changed his nappy before we headed out again.

In Tesco just now, at the till, Drews just standing there chatting to his baby and the woman infront of us, probably mid 50s, who was just about to walk away after paying (and probably now wishes she did exactly that) looks down at Drew, laughs and says ‘have you got a baby dolly there, but you’re a boy’…Drew looked at me very confused as to what this woman meant and at that point I could have very easily turned into the Hulk at her ridiculous comment. Instead I came out with ‘ so?’ (accompanied by the filthiest look i was capable of). She looked at me like I’d slapped her…what was she expecting!? She came back with ‘well he’s a boy isn’t he’…again as if she was expecting me to agree with the point she felt needed to be made. It took so much strength to remain calm especially as Drew was looking at me, I replied that yes my child is a boy and I’m raising him with the freedom and choice to play with whatever he chooses and that I would appreciate if she kept her out-dated, sexist and highly judgemental comments to herself next time because how dare she say something so stupid to a young child. After a moment of shocked silence, she apologised and walked off. The conversations around me at the nearby tills had stopped while they stared at me as if I was the one in the wrong!!!😲😠

It infuriates me that people not only still have this pathetic view but actually have the audacity to voice it directly to my five year old while he’s obliviously playing with his doll, not harming anyone else. I’m well aware that he is very likely going to grow out of doll-playing very soon, probably due to peer-pressure or stupid looks and comments from ignorant twats like the woman we came across today, but for now, he chooses to play with a doll. Maybe I should have told the woman (and all the people staring at me) that he also enjoys kicking a football around with his uncle occasionally or that he also reads a lot, likes to play cars, as well as play hairdressers and pretend-paint my nails. He is very well-rounded and has an interest in a lot of different things, but even if that wasn’t the case and he just wanted to play with ‘girls toys’, I would still be as proud of him as I am now.

It’s such a shame that the world has small-minded, rude and cruel people in it, they’re a waste of oxygen. Especially the woman we met today. I’ve never felt more angry than I did in that moment. Drews always received looks if he’s had his baby with him, but never has someone directly said to him in so many words that he shouldn’t be playing with a doll because he’s a boy😠👊🏻 I’m sure there’s probably more than a handful of people of my friends list that share the opinion of that woman, we’re all entitled to our own opinion, but think about the impact you might have if you voiced that opinion directly to a child.

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