|Julia, 3 (Tirana, Albania)|
I was going to make sure she had choices. I didn't want my daughter to be conditioned to be a Barbie lovin', pink wearin', prissy little girl; she was going to play with trucks and baseballs and soccer balls and dolls and then decide what she liked best.
Well, the Tonka dump truck soon became a bassinet for her Cabbage Patch dolls and her little brother gladly traded her the grader for a plush lamb that just wasn't macho enough for him.
Are girls conditioned to want dolls? Are boys conditioned to want trucks? Are girls naturally attracted to more nurturing, mothering type toys, while boys want guns to go out and bring dinner home?
|Henry, 5 (Berkeley, California)|
Take Henry from Berkeley. I mean I have friends that live in Berkeley and yes, their little boys like trucks, planes, megatrons, dinosaurs, and snakes. I mean, it's Berkeley, I can't tell you how many times I took my own son, the volcano freak, to the Lawrence Hall of Science. He loved it, his sister not so much--although she thought the Planetarium was pretty cool (emphasis on pretty).
|Enea, 3 (Boulder, Colorado)|
Then there are some really poignant photos. The one that struck me the most was little Maudy. She has the greatest "CHEESE" of a smile while sporting her yellow sunglasses. This little gal's favorite things, a box of plastic sunglasses, fell off the back of a truck. What do you do with a box of plastic sunglasses? She set up a market, of course, and then let the trading begin.
|Maudy, 3 (Kaululushi, Zambia)|
Maudy also reminds me of how much "stuff" we have in America. I know the first trip I took to another country as a young person taught me one thing...we are so lucky. We have clean water, toilets, doctors, and FOOD. That's a good lesson to learn . . . go traveling young people! But I digress . . .
Another photo that really struck me was of Pavel, a five-year-old from the Ukraine. He was surrounded by toy guns and a Bobby helmet. With the current state of affairs in that country, it's scary to see this anxiety trickle down to the playroom.
Here's what I noticed (at least in the few photos posted in the article) the kids whose parents had some disposable income were surrounded by what we would call gender specific toys - boys liked trucks, sports, guns while girls liked dolls and stuffed animals. Kids that have nothing basically turned whatever they could find into toys, from sunglasses to gnarled dinosaurs.
Brainpickings states that this is a "visual catalog of the culturally conditioned imagination" which seems pretty obvious - it's hard not be conditioned by your culture unless you live in a cave all by yourself. In spite of all our attempts to avoid culturally conditioning our children - give your daughter a truck, give your son a doll - these kids seem to gravitate towards gendered social norms, or at least they did a few years ago.
Do you think that the current society is better able to give children freedom to pick their own toys? Do you think that kids now don't have a need to conform to social roles through play? Would you give you daughter a truck?