Hey Moms: did you know a plush, talking frog has the power to sway your child's sexuality?
That's the amusing conclusion I've reached after discovering Learning Friend Lily
and Learning Friend Tad
, two talking frogs from the LeapFrog
company that sing songs about numbers and colors in English and Spanish.
My daughter received not one but two Lilys for Christmas, gifts from relatives who know we want to teach her both English and Spanish as she grows up. Lily's pretty fun: she sings and counts and announces, in a chipper voice, that her flowers are PINK! You get the idea.
Then I went to Target and stumbled across her male counterpart, Tad.
Lily sings that she has "lots of pretty colors." Tad, on the other hand, has "lots of brilliant
colors." Because HEY!! Tad is NOT a queer! No "I wish I knew how to quit you!" moments for this froggy friend.
Lily counts girly things like butterflies and bunnies; Tad counts manly
things like cars and sailboats. He even has keys attached to his left hand, while Lily's left hand is, sadly, barren.
It all got me to wondering about the gender roles we insist on assigning our children, starting in early infancy. While I am guilty of swathing my daughter in pink and arranging her full head of hair in any number of cute hairstyles, I just don't care what kind of toys she plays with. Her favorite toys are a Tonka truck and a toy bus. She prefers her dad's laptop computer and cell phone to dolls and stuffed animals. I'm kind of hoping that ever-obnoxious Princess fascination that is so typical of little girls won't kick in when she gets a little older, but if it does, I'll be a sport and indulge her.
Another Christmas gift my daughter received was a set of Baby Abuelita
dolls, adorable singing dolls meant too look like a Grandma and Grandpa. They sing classic Spanish lullabies in the sweetest voice. A fellow mom saw the freshly unwrapped dolls and said, "Oh! We should get these for our son!" But dad protested immediately: we're not going to buy our son any dolls
, he said.
What are we so afraid of? Why can't boys play with tea sets and toy vaccuums without people making weird comments? What's wrong with little girls racing Hot Wheels if they want? Why must we put our children in boxes from the time they're born?
All I want is for my daughter to be herself. Not who I want her to be, but who she is. I will do my best to instill good values, teach her right from wrong and all that jazz. But who am I to tell her she has to like Disney Princess dolls, if she's more of a Lego kind of girl? I think we tend to get too wrapped up in the idea of molding our children into mini versions of us, rather than letting them become their own person.
I like to think I'll be just as open-minded if I ever have a son...because let's face it, there are much
worse things than a boy with a Barbie.