Girls and Boys and all Their Toys

| September 4, 2013 | 0 Comments


Who says applying makeup is easy?

Who says applying makeup is easy?

As the mother of two sons I watched how my boys played and thought nothing of it. Although I did not see them gravitate toward dolls or dishes, I thought they must be playing the same as girls only using different toys. Instead of dolls they had G.I. Joe and action figures, instead of dishes they lined up their blocks. I had all nephews and my first grandchild was a boy. They all confirmed my theory. Yes, boys and girls play the same and we, as parents, steer them to toys that are marketed to boys or to girls. But that was before I had a girl in my life. Then my first granddaughter was born and 12 years later my second. With both these children, I soon realized my theory had holes in it.

My grandsons and my granddaughters love to build things but with a big difference. The boys built their masterpieces just to have the joy of knocking them down once they were built. The girls wanted to preserve and protect theirs and were very careful to keep them intact. The boys used their action figures as instruments to fight each other. The girls combed their dolls’ hair and wrapped them in swaddling blankets. No one told them to play that way, no one showed them how. It was inherent.

By the time she was three, my first granddaughter found my makeup drawer and was enthralled. She would sit at the vanity forever, putting on blush, eyes shadow and lipstick all the while smiling at herself in the magnifying mirror. I kept a bag with various items of clothing for her to play dressup and she would ask for that bag whenever she visited. It was filled with all kinds of things from gloves to sequined sweaters. She would dump her treasures on the floor and dress and redress herself all day. I never showed her what to do with makeup, I never dressed her in those clothes. Somehow it was where she gravitated all by herself.

When another boy was born after my granddaughter I gave him the same toys as I gave her. There was total rejection, except for the time I found him behind closed doors undressing Barbie to see what mystery lurked under those clothes. No, he wanted cars and transformers, anything he could pretend was a gun and building something was for the pure joy of knocking it down. He never played dress up even with boy outfits and he had no interest in the makeup drawer.

Then another girl came along and I got the opportunity to test my theory again. Do girls and boys really play differently right from early childhood? She had all her brother’s hand me down toys at my house and I always put them out for her to play with. Instead I found her with her older cousin’s play clothes, Barbies and dishes. She has no time for the little matchbox cars or the transformers. She wants the “girl toys” only. Carefully arranging her dolls and stuffed animals, she feeds them with her tiny dishes. Just like her girl cousin, gramma never showed her how. And then, at the young age of two, she found the magic makeup drawer. But with this little girl, it looks like she could use a little help from gramma.

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