I’ve always tried to keep N fairly neutral in letting him have free reign over what toys he wants to play with, if he’s chosen predominantly ‘boy’ toys for home, he does have the option to play with dolls, dress up and play with more traditionally ‘girls’ toys at nursery or at friend’s houses.
So N loves to dress up at nursery, usually him and his friend J are both dressed in princess dresses when I go to pick him up on a Friday, not worrying that it’s a dress.
- He insists that he also needs make up on when I’m doing mine
- He loves pretending to be a hair dresser – whether that’s mine or his dad’s.
- If we walk into the children’s clothes part in Next, he’ll quite often head towards the girls side with all the sparkling pink clothes rather than the boys side.
- He loves to play cook for the family over at the farm or at home.
I’ve been quite surprised at how his dad (who’s very traditional) has been fairly relaxed about just letting N get on with what he wants to play with.
But I’ve noticed more recently how N, and it seems some of his friends, has all of a sudden just started turning his nose up at girls.
After nursery I’ll rarely get much information out of him, but I ask him who he’s played with that day. At his nursery school, there’s more boys than girls, although there is one girl he does play quite a lot with (she’s even on his Christmas card list which I was surprised about). But at his day nursery it’s a more even split. In choosing who he plays with, it’s always the boys he talks about, and quite often I’ll pick him up and it’ll be all the boys in the corner playing vehicles or sand or water play together. When I ask if he’s played with any girls, or if he let any girls play with the toys he’s taken in, he’ll say ‘no, girls can’t play with my toys, they’re for boys’. I have to correct him and suggest that anyone should be able to play with toys they want.
While N and his friend J both are quite happy to be cross dressing in fancy dress princess dresses, there’s another of his friends who won’t go near them. He’s quite vocal in not liking what girls play with. As an only child N hasn’t been able to learn that from any siblings, and although his only girl cousin does like pretty sparkly things and jewellery, he usually sees her tearing round the farm with her brothers, or on a horse or bike. So it’ll be interesting how quickly N takes on these ideas, and where he learns them from.
I am a little concerned with how he’s viewing future jobs or careers. I work, but his other female adult relations don’t, and although he sees other women working, they tend to be in the more stereotypical jobs – in shops, teachers/nursery staff, nurses and hair dressers. We do know a couple of female vets though, and his day nursery have had visits from people with specific jobs to talk tot he children, some of whom are female – whether it be police, the armed forces, vets etc so I was hoping he’d be a little more open minded in what jobs are available to all.
There’s some jobs that N insists are only boys jobs…like farming. I tell him that there are women farmers, but he’s not convinced. And he’s not yet met the female Tesco delivery driver who’s been the last couple of weeks. N still describes the Tesco delivery as Mr Tesco bringing the shopping. I think I’ve got some work to go in convincing him that there aren’t actually jobs specifically for girls and boys.
I suppose N’s just about coming up to the age where he’s not so keen on girls. In the village there’s very few girls of his age. In fact, one mum of a girl probably going to school next year with N, has worked out that of the children we know who’ll be applying to the village school, there’ll only be 2 girls compared with double figures for boys. It could be almost single sex teaching for their school year. Luckily he’s got other friends who’re girls, and there’s a more even split at his day nursery.
I’m just going to have to continue reiterating more about equality as he grows up.
Did you find your children went through similar phases? How do you try and get through on the equality message?