Little Boys and Masculinity
My son is three, and from the very beginning of his little life, he has always been very masculine. Everything is about throwing, running, swordfighting, shooting (see my stance on toy guns here), and anything else in-between. I have even seen him make two pears on our fruit table “swordfight” each other.
That being said, I have never expected to play anything remotely “feminine” with him. House, dolls, dress up…Barbies. Because those things are all girly, right?
I think that is where I thought wrong.
Tonight my Mom and Dad brought over a few boxes of Barbies my sisters and I had grown out of. I have the storage space and would like to save them, just in case. When they were brought over, I couldn’t help myself: I tore open the boxes and started reminiscing over all the dolls, furniture, vehicles and clothes. Elijah (my son) was just as enamoured. His little hands went right for the Ken dolls, the washing machine that swished at the push of a button, and the baby dolls.
As I watched him play with the “girly” toys I loved years ago, I realized he was being masculine, even while playing with Barbies. Ken got dressed and was the “daddy.” He drove the car, held the babies and took his wife places. Ken even took a nap, and we all had to be very quiet so that he could sleep. While Ken was sleeping Elijah quietly played with the plastic mailbox and it’s letter, the pink bicycle helmet, the bunk beds and the pretend food.
Observing him play, it dawned on me that had I been the type of mother to not let him play with these “girly” things, I would be missing out on so many teachable moments. A little boy playing with a Ken doll can learn so much about being a father, husband, and honorable man. While spending time with him, I can show him what that looks like through play. And playing with Barbies comes much more naturally to me than smashing trucks together, if I’m completely honest.
Because I think little boys playing with “girly” toys only become effeminate if a parent makes a big deal about it. Children as young as 3 don’t care about gender most of the time…just having fun. I don’t want to ruin it by limiting him.
And so I got out a bin and we put the furniture, a few Barbies, a handful of clothes and some knick-knacks into it. Yes, Elijah and I will be playing with Barbies in the future, if he so chooses.
And maybe even house, and dress up. If he can learn about being a man from Barbies, imagine what fun playing house could be! 3 is a wonderful age, and I can’t wait to explore the expanses of his growing imagination.