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.
She didn’t get this from me. The only glimpse of pink she could find in my closet was a stripe on some workout pants (although I bought a pink sweater to wear to her fourth birthday party in her honor). I wear makeup so infrequently that I have to think about how to apply it when I do, and even then it’s eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and powder–if I remember the powder. Ellie can go through multiple wardrobe changes in a day. My signature look is a sports bra, tank top and the aforementioned workout pants, which I also have with a blue stripe and in solid black. Ellie is known for her elaborate hair accessories and she changes her hairstyle often, moving effortlessly from braids to buns to headbands. My hair has two styles: down and ponytail.
When I found out I was having a girl, I made sure not to register for everything in “girl colors” because, honestly, who can even stand that much pink? Her car seat was red, one stroller was orange, the other was green, her walls are purple with a green accent one…you get the idea.
I didn’t keep Ellie away from pink or princesses or dolls or stereotypically girly things. They were always available through things I bought for or were given to her. She gravitates naturally to all of it. I don’t deny her any of it. It doesn’t get in the way of her love of science and math (PBS Kids’ new “Peg + Cat” is her favorite show and it depicts a little girl solving problems with math on the backdrop of graph paper), her interest in trains (Thomas and some of his friends arrived at Hanukkah) or her obsession with being in what she calls The Fixing World. She has her own tools, including a real hammer, and she is by her handy daddy’s side any time he does a home improvement project, whether it’s unclogging a toilet or building a new master bedroom closet.
On the flip side, my 18-month-old son will throw Ellie’s dolls out of the way to get to books, balls, blocks and cars. He likes the dollhouse–because he can push a button and a light comes on. Many a Barbie-fied Cinderella has been literally tossed aside in his pursuit of that button. He’s got plenty of “girl” toys at his disposal and yet he never touches them. Even when my husband, daughter or I give him a baby doll, he chucks it and goes looking for his brown Floppy Bear.
I haven’t used any GoldieBlox products. I hadn’t even heard of the company until Kveller’s post. I like and support the theory behind it. A few weeks ago, I saw a book/puzzle at Barnes and Noble about making a robot out of the pieces provided and stamped right there in the title was “Boy Stuff.” It disgusted and infuriated me. So I get it. But I don’t think that letting little girls wear pink or play with ponies and princesses is bad. Intelligence and pink don’t have to be mutually exclusive. My Ellie wouldn’t be my Ellie without her natural tendencies toward all things girl. I’m just encouraging her through nurturing to try anything. It’s not always easy–“Boy Stuff,” I’m looking at you–but if you see someone conducting an archaeological dig while wearing stilettos and a blinged-out headband in 20 or so years, it will probably be Ellie.