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Mar 19 2014

I Don’t Make Homemade Play-Doh and I Don’t Feel Guilty About It

By at 4:24 pm

play-doe

I see that sheet of paper every time I drop the girls off at preschool. There’s a green one in my older daughter’s classroom and a yellow one in my younger daughter’s. Each page has three columns: one for your name, one for the date, and one for the color of Play-Doh you’re going to make for the entire preschool class.

In almost three years of sending my girls to this preschool, which I absolutely adore, I have never once signed up to make Play-Doh. There is just nothing appealing about it to me, and besides, there is no question that I would screw it up. (Don’t tell me how easy it is; I can burn water, people.) I try to compensate in other ways–I volunteer for various tasks that don’t require me to go into (or even near) my kitchen, and I read stories and do crafts for Hanukkah and Passover. I know the school has enough Play-Doh (or at least I think they do), and I know that I am contributing in other ways, but I just can’t seem to shake the guilt I feel over all of it.

A few weeks ago, I Facebooked a picture of my daughters at home, cutting multi-colored lumps of Play-Doh into a million little pieces. My dear friend and fellow Kveller Tamara Reese left the following comment: Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 20 2014

My Daughter Has Way Too Many Toys. How Can I Raise Her To Appreciate What She Has?

By at 11:43 am

toys

Our daughter has the lucky advantage of being the first grandchild and having incredibly generous and thoughtful grandparents, aunties and uncles, and friends who have gifted her everything and more than a toddler could dream. She’s got toys, books, puzzles, stuffed animals, Legos, blocks, dolls, Play-Dough, art supplies galore, musical instruments, a kitchen set, a doll house, balls, a scooter, games, her very own swing-set outside in the backyard, and she’s only 2.5 years old!

Not only does she have more than she needs, she also has more than she can handle. She plays with maybe half of her toys, though she likes to pull 98 percent of them out when friends come over to play. I am nervous that we are setting a precedent and potentially creating a child who will feel super entitled and will want more, and more, and more, and NOW. How do we make sure she appreciates all that she has in the world? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 12 2014

My Little Girl Loves Pink and Princesses (and Bugs!)

By at 9:56 am

Ellie-princess

I’ve always found the nature versus nurture discussion interesting. Now that I am the mom of a boy and a girl, it’s downright fascinating. It’s from that perspective that I rolled my eyes after I watched the commercial for GoldieBlox that Kveller posted.

The thing I probably love the most about my daughter, Ellie, who’s 4, is that she will dress herself in full princess garb, crown to slipper, and then march outside to examine bugs with her yellow magnifying glass, moving dirt around and onto her tulled tushy with a red or blue shovel. This is also her outfit of choice to wear while she does experiments from her multicolored science kit.

Ellie’s favorite color is pink, with purple in close second. She plays with her dolls – stuffed and Barbie–and is always the mom. She has a jewelry box stuffed with plastic baubles that she wears with the pride of a woman who just received an engagement ring. Ellie couldn’t be girlier if she tried. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 3 2014

Girls Ditch Their Pink Toys in the GoldieBlox Super Bowl Commercial

By at 10:31 am

Whether or not you care to watch giant men in spandex leggings tackle each other with the hopes of winning a massive bejeweled ring, for many, the Super Bowl is all about the commercials, and this year did not disappoint. One stand out? The much-talked about ad featuring GoldieBlox, an engineering-related game designed especially for girls.

The ad plays on gender stereotyping in toys, insisting that more than “pink, pink, pink,” girls actually “want to think.” So, watch below and tell us what you think.

What were your other favorite commercials of the night?

Nov 18 2013

Hanukkah Gift Guide: For the Kid Who Prefers to Stay Indoors

By at 11:45 am

For the parents of the kid who would rather play an instrument than soccer, this gift guide is for you!

1. Hohner Kids Toddle Music Band ($21.99) Your little one will rock out and have a blast with this toddler music set, complete with a xylophone, sea drum, bells, and beads!

inaband

2. Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Art Set ($17.49) We truthfully want this for ourselves. This all inclusive art set includes water colored pencils, oil pastels, watercolors, paintbrushes, and pencils. Your refrigerator door will be thoroughly decorated for years. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 12 2013

I’m Buying My Girls a Bunch of Plastic Toys for Hanukkah & I Don’t Even Feel Guilty

By at 1:59 pm

plastic dolls

Two years ago, I wrote these words in a post for Kveller: “We’re trying something new this year. Instead of giving gifts, we’re going to focus on experiences that honor Hanukkah for what it is, and don’t try to make it into something it’s not.”

Last year, I wrote a post titled, “An Obscene Amount of Princesses for Hanukkah” in which I described buying a ton of plastic Disney Princesses for the girls. After a long paragraph expounding on all of the possible problems with these toys, I finished the post by writing, “It’s certainly not my job to make them happy. But sometimes I get tired of following the rules and always trying to do the right thing. Sometimes I want to do something for my girls for no other reason than it makes them happy. Because that makes me happy, too.”

Hanukkah comes early this year (in case you hadn’t heard), so I’ve been hoarding toys from the discount racks at TJMaxx and CVS for a few weeks now. The pile in our basement now includes: plastic figurines of Doc McStuffins and all of her little stuffed friends, a LaLaLoopsy tree house, and two bathtub-friendly mermaid/Barbie/princess dolls in the form of Belle and Ariel. I can’t wait to give these toys to my daughters–no apologies, no excuses–just straight up commercial plastic fun. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 28 2012

Hanukkah Gift Guide 2012: Jewish Toys for Kids

By at 9:51 am

What to get for the kiddos this Hanukkah? Finding gifts that are at least a little Jewish is always a plus. Consider making some of these great gifts from ModernTribe part of your kids’ eight nights.

yoda mezuzahThe perfect mezuzah for any star wars lover, this is. It’s one of the many Star Wars LEGO Mezuzahs ($35-$45), including ones featuring Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Count Dooku, Mace Windu. If you’ve got more of a Hello Kitty fan on your hands, we’ve got that covered too. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 18 2012

What is it with Boys and Trains?

By at 12:03 pm

wooden toy train setMy toddler has a new nickname for me: Milk Carton.

This started off as Milk Car, my designated portion of the train as I follow Asher–who goes by Engine–around the house or along the edge of the sidewalk (in his worldview, curbs are tracks). Asher still nurses, so the nickname is quite literal. My husband is Caboose–as he walks behind me, he likes to joke about my Dairy-ere. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 25 2011

Streetwalker Barbie Has Invaded My Home

By at 1:21 pm

My daughter turned 3 on Sunday. She got a Barbie doll for a present.

She’s obsessed. I’m still reeling.

In the interest of full disclosure, we knew what it was, and we let her have it anyway. While she was napping, I carefully opened enough of the package to recognize that bright pink logo that was burned into my psyche decades ago. I paused for a moment as the voices of fellow hippie-progressive-feminist Mamas rang in my ears, warning me of all the dangers hidden in that box alongside the injection-molded-plastic threat to my daughter’s self esteem, body image, and future ability to establish and maintain healthy sexual relationships.

But those warnings were quickly replaced by memories of how much I enjoyed playing with Barbies as a young girl—my sister and I dressed our Barbies, combed their hair, and enjoyed tormenting each other by stealing and hiding each others’ dolls. And then I remembered my own daughter’s first encounter with a Barbie; she was about 14 months old, and there was one in the toy area of the local pediatric Emergency Room. Frieda was hopped up on inhaled steroids after a nasty bout of croup, and she fell in love with that doll with a passion I hadn’t previously seen. How could I deny her such love again? How bad could it be?

You have no idea. I had no idea.

This Barbie is a straight up streetwalker. Or at least she looks like one. I’m surprised she didn’t come with a tiny wad of cash. I was disgusted (but not shocked) by the bizarre proportions of her body, and stunned by how hyper-sexualized she is. I think that’s the hardest part about it for me. I don’t mind the pink and the sprinkles and the rhinestones that have captured my daughter’s imagination, but this Barbie isn’t about glitter and fairy wings. She’s wearing a low-cut halter top and a mini-skirt that is so short and tight that the tiny strip of Velcro barely holding it closed instantly rips open every time my daughter tries to get her to sit. Her hair is a long, tangled hive of peroxide, her makeup would rival Tammy Faye Baker’s any day, and her shoes are a bizarre mix of gladiator sandal and stiletto heel.

I’m horrified. My daughter is in heaven.

She’s not thinking about body-image and self-esteem and cultural norms and implicit messages about the value of women. She’s not worried about pre-marital sex and STDs and eating disorders and addiction and all of the dangers awaiting my daughters in just a few short years—threats that I like to pretend I can keep at bay if only I can keep the damn Barbies out of the house. She sees a pretty doll in shiny clothes. Barbie is her friend, she tells me.

And now Barbie is in our home. And my husband and I have to figure out what to do. Kicking her to the curb doesn’t seem like the answer, primarily because our experience with our feisty daughter (and the rest of humanity, for that matter) tells us that the more verboten Barbie is, the more desirable she becomes. So, instead of hiding Barbie and telling my daughter that she’s taking a really long nap, I’m trying to engage Frieda in an on-going dialogue about body shapes and clothing and sensible footwear. We’ll get to the body image and sexuality stuff soon enough.

We’ve had conversations about how Barbie is skinny and hard, which makes her uncomfortable to snuggle. We’re talking about how hard it must be for Barbie to walk in her high heels, and that she can’t run and play in those shoes. And although Frieda was willing to concede that Barbie might be cold and could use a sweatshirt, she refuses to let go of the slutty halter-top, arguing that it is a lot like a tank-top. My daughter’s obsession with sleeveless shirts predates Barbie’s arrival in our home by several months. She wants to wear a tank top every day (which is getting trickier as winter approaches), and feels an instant kinship with anyone (real or plastic) wearing anything that vaguely resembles a tank top. So, I decided to compromise on this one. Last night I went online and found some inexpensive, hand-made tank-top dresses that are fairly modest—no cleavage showing, the skirts are nice and long, and I suspect Barbie could run and play in comfort, assuming we could find some running shoes that will fit on her poor damaged feet.

I’m starting to feel better about the situation, but I also worry that a Pandora’s Box has been opened in our little home, one that we’ll never be able to fully contain it again. I suppose this is the nature of our children growing up, and of my husband and I growing into parenthood. We’re not raising our daughters in a vacuum, nor would I want to. I try to see these Barbie moments as grist for the mill, fodder for an ongoing dialogue about ourselves, our relationships, our belongings, and our values.

I still wish Barbie didn’t have to look like such a tramp, though.

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