This is going to sound horrible no matter how I say it, so I figure I’ll just get it out of the way now, and explain after:
School kinda killed Holden’s independence.
See? Awful, right? Of course he’s learning, and he loves it, and he’s super smart and NEEDS to be in a classroom environment (he and I butt heads when I’m trying to teach him something)- but before he started Kindergarten last year, he’d never been around other kids for any extended amount of time. Of course, there were play dates and holidays and gatherings and parties, but nothing can compare to 6 solid hours in one room with 20+ other crotchfruit. Before school, he never cared what anyone thought, mostly because he was never forced to hear it.
I’ve always been a staunch supporter of letting the kids play whatever they want to play with, regardless of what gender is “supposed” to play with it. You want to play with dolls? I mean, they’re creepy as fuck, but okay! You want some of your nails painted? Why the hell not?! You want a kitchen and a broom and a vacuum? Hell yeah; that’s a great idea!
We never cared if it was pink or purple or frilly. We never cared if we had to venture into the pepto-bismol pink part of the toy store to grab something they’d been asking for. We never cared, and neither did they.
Apparently, other kids care.
We spent a few years getting past the obnoxious comments from strangers and nagging comments from family about cutting their hair because they “look like girls” and had gotten to a point where we really didn’t care what anyone said, but I guess we never thought starting school would convince Holden that “girl” toys were ONLY for girls. It was like pulling teeth to get Holden to meet the princesses on our last trip to Disney, meanwhile, Parker was BEYOND thrilled to run into the arms of one.
I was saddened by this, because I felt as though he was beginning to close himself off to new and possibly wonderful experiences simply because of stupid gender stereotypes, and just like I’d never force my children to play with only “boy” toys (snort), I’d never force them to play with girl toys either.
When this past Christmas rolled around, there were SO many things I knew Holden would love if he just gave them a chance, but I knew he wouldn’t. “Ugh that’s for girls!” was the response I got any time I’d show him one of these gifts. Of course, none of them said “no boys allowed!” on the packaging, but when you only show girls playing with them in the commercials and on the box, I suppose I could see how an impressionable little mind would get stuck on that.
Princess loving Parker is even more impressionable, but not by others; I swear the TV is hypnotic to him; ESPECIALLY infomercials. When he finally requested a gift that didn’t have “AS SEEN ON TV” plastered all over the box, I was all for it. Of all things to ask for, he wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Memories! My Easy Bake Oven was one of my FAVORITE toys, even if I could never get the fudge to come out right no matter how many times I tried. The kids are always trying to help me bake, but they ALWAYS end up fighting with each other over counter space or who gets to crack the egg, stir, or pour and get themselves banned from the kitchen until the baking is done- so to finally have something made FOR them, that doesn’t have as much of a possibility of making a ginormous mess? I was IN.
When it came to actually buying the thing, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it didn’t ONLY come in pink (like most “girl” toys) but blue as well. I would have bought it in any color, but it was just nice to see some variety in there, as though they weren’t aiming for JUST girls. Had a company finally figured out that baking isn’t just for females?
Come Christmas morning, Parker was ELATED when he unwrapped the giant box, and IMMEDIATELY wanted to start baking. Holden? “But that’s for girls!” sigh. That’s when I saw it- a girl AND a BOY on the box. GREAT ODIN’S RAVEN, COULD IT BE?! I love ANY chance to prove my kids wrong (especially about something as dumb as “it’s for girls”), so I shoved the box in his face, gave him a very mature NUH-UH, and showed him the boy in the picture. He was pretty set on refusing to admit that he was wrong until Parker whipped up a batch of cookies and shared with him.
Like music to my ears, Holden came charging into the kitchen announcing “I want to bake something with the Easy Bake Oven!”, and as overjoyed as I was, that’s when I had to break the news to him: It only came with ONE package of cookies to make.
WHAT THE HELL, EASY BAKE?! ONE package of tiny cookies?! With it being Christmas and all, all the refills were sold out in every single store, so Holden has yet to get to use it- but the point still stands.
Kudos to the makers of Easy Bake Oven. They looked past gender stereotypes and opened a classic toy to girls AND boys, and got Holden to forget about his classmates. That is pretty frickin’ spectacular.