By Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
"Mommy!" my preschool son exclaimed, framing his shocked face with tiny hands. "You can't play with my train! You're a GIRL!" Never mind that I'd just played trains with him yesterday, and they had somehow avoided from cootie contamination. Rather than argue with him, I took it as a free pass to read a book while he tootled by himself. (Five minutes of peace = mini-vacay!)
Young children can be notoriously rigid about gender roles - I think there's even a scientific explanation for this that I'd tell you about if I had enough brain cells left to remember my developmental psych class - and the toy companies are well aware of this. Any parent who's been to a department store knows that there are "boy toys" on certain aisles and "girl toys" on others and never the twain shall mix. (Except for that one random aisle that has educational stuff like phonics games and microscopes and other stuff that parents like way more than kids.)
For the most part I've been okay with this; I've tried to remain gender neutral. I've bought my boys baby dolls and my daughter dump trucks... and then watched while my boys played WWF with the dolls and my daughter lovingly rocked the truck to sleep. I also didn't bat an eyelash when my son wanted a pink birthday party and my daughter wore her brother's brown sweater for a week straight. Kids like what they like.
Recently, however, something caught me off guard. A friend's daughter turned four and received a lovely set of Legos for her birthday. Pink Legos. Not only were they pink, they came with little Lego dolls that have backstories, pop-star wardrobes, and stereotypical jobs like, well, pop star. All they were missing was a gossip mag, a Starbucks cup, and a junkie stare.
I'm not sure exactly why this particular girly toy out of all the ones out there bothered me so much. Certainly Bratz dolls and the like are much more offensive. I think it has something to do with the fact that Legos were never a "boy" toy in my mind to begin with. They were an equal-opportunity mess, like Play-Doh and alphabet refrigerator magnets. What is so masculine about primary-colored building blocks? Do we really need pink ones?
Then I remembered all the sets of Halo, Harry Potter, and Star Wars-themed Lego sets I've seen popping up at birthday parties for boys, and it made me realize that perhaps the buildling blocks really had been targeted more to boys all these years. So maybe we do need pink Legos after all? And hey, at least one of the Lego Friends is a lady inventor.
What do you think about the new pink Legos?
-I buy regular Legos all around-no special sets at our house.
-If my daughter asked for them I would get them. Anything that encourages creative play!
-Of course! The pink Legos are adorable! It's about time!
-Who cares what color Legos are? People are too touchy.
More from REDBOOK:
The Great Date Night Movie Compromise
The Best Beauty Products of 2012
- 75 Most Iconic Hairstyles of All Time
- 101 Desserts to Satisfy Any Sweet Tooth
- 8 Tips for Baby-Soft Skin
Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.