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November 2012
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December 2012

Boys And Easy Bake Ovens

Images-1Just came across an AP story about a 13-year-old Rhode Island girl who wanted to buy her little brother the Easy Bake Oven he wanted for Christmas. But when she went to the store, she found the toy came only in "girly" pink and purple and just featured girls on the packaging. The sister, a resourceful girl, managed to collect more than 30,000 signatures on a petiton to Hasbro, asking them to market the oven to kids in general, not just girls. One of her supporters is celebrity chef Bobby Flay, who had an Easy Bake oven when he was a kid.

When I was writing The Mama's Boy Myth, I heard a very similar anecdote about a boy wanting an Easy Bake oven. In this case he didn't have a supportive sister, but an anxious father who worried about the future sexual orientation of a son who wanted to play with this toy.

Oh, for Heaven's Sake. We have got to stop with all this gendered packaging and handwringing about who plays with what.

This is just reminding me that at the Food Pantry where I volunteer, we distribute toys during the holiday season. We get the gifts through Toys for Tots, which is a great program, but they ask how many "boy" gifts and how many "girl" gifts we need. Time to update this too.


The End of Your Life Book Club

ImagesBeen reading this beautiful book which weaves together a son's love for his mother with their mutual devotion to literature. Came across this passage last night:

"There's also still a schoolyard stigma to being perceived as overly attached to your mother. I think it's far less pronounced today than it was when I was growing up, but it's still there. Most of the men I know freely admit to loving books about sons coming to terms with the lives and legacies of their fathers - books like Big Russ and Me by Tim Russert and The Duke of Deception by Geoffrey Wolff and The Great Santini by  Pat Conroy. But those same men are a little more embarrassed about loving books like The Color of Water by James McBride or The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer, maybe talking about the first in terms of what it says about race and the second for its depiction of the joys of bar life, when both books really, at their hearts are about the fierce bond between a mother and son."


Recognizing Today's Dads

ImagesInch by inch. Block by Block. Even Mattel gets that the times are changing and that girls can do things besides dress and undress their over-sexualized Barbie dolls. But what interested me the most about a NYT piece on "The Mega Bloks Barbie Build 'n Style line" a construction set - in pink of course - was that Mattel was marketing it to fathers. They recognize that fathers are not only doing a lot of the buying of kids' toys, but also the playing. One-fifth of fathers with preschool-age children and working wives say they are the primary caretaker in 2010, according to the latest census data. 

Of course Dads like to build things, because they were encouraged to build things when they grew up. And studies show that when kids play with blocks, puzzles and construction toys, it improves their spatial development. So score another one - not just for gender equity for girls (because there's still a long way to go- the kits build a pink mansion, a beauty shop and a fashion studio) but also for men. Nice to see them recognized not just as caretakers, but as parents who can bring a great deal to level the toddler playing field.