On Trucks and Tea Sets
Back in February, royal chatter started churning over the Sussex’s plan to avoid gender stereotypes while raising their yet-to-be-born child. The idea that Meghan and Harry were consciously choosing a gender-neutral environment really spoke to me as a mother of two (soon to be three!) myself.
When my older son neared his first birthday, his interest — nay, obsession — with trucks took hold. We lived in an apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone overlooking the street and he would stare endlessly at the vehicles below. By his second birthday, he could school me on the difference between a backhoe, an excavator, and a front loader. By his third, he recited every truck, car, and tractor on the lot.
All of this was quite surprising to me and my husband. We had never done anything to encourage (or discourage, for that matter) our son’s love of vehicles. Sure, we had grown up at a time when gender stereotypes dominated the shopping landscape. The boys’ section was awash in blue, filled with trucks and dinosaurs. Meanwhile, I roamed the pink-filled aisles targeting girls, staring starry-eyed at the princesses. These days, that kind of segmenting is loosening a bit, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. After my dear friend and NY1 traffic reporter Jamie Stelter posted her frustration on Instagram about having to buy PJs with cars and stoplights on them from Gap’s boy section, the retailer changed its merchandising in stores and online. How cool is that?
With all of this in mind, I have marveled at my own son’s interest in trucks — how it came to him all on his own and how seriously it has stuck. He passed it along to his little brother, too! We now have more trucks, and truck books, and truck T-shirts, than I can count in our house. I love hearing the squeals when we see a dump truck or fire engine from the car window.
And yet, I have been very cognizant as a parent to look for opportunities to introduce other interests, too. We were at the mall recently and my son, now almost four, was totally smitten by a tea set on display at one of the children’s stores. So come Easter morning, along with a pop-up fire truck tent, a four-cup tea set awaited my little dudes. The audible, delighted gasps — equally enthusiastic at both — warmed my heart. I’m now regularly served tea during playtime, which you know I love. Among the most sought-after items in the dress-up box at home are a pair of tutus, which the boys received as favors at a friend’s birthday party. They particularly love to wear the tutus on our backyard trampoline. Turns out, tulle is the perfect material for jumping!
As the birth of my daughter nears, I’m becoming aware of the stereotypes put on girls, too. My younger sister has given me some great ideas. My niece, who is about to turn two, also loves trucks (which makes cousin gatherings so fun!). For her school pictures, she wore the cutest dress covered in construction vehicles. It’s from an amazing retailer my sister introduced me to called Princess Awesome with the tagline: A Different Kind of Girly. The creators are in the process of launching Boy, Wonder, coming this fall. A pink shirt with an excavator scooping ice cream? Sign me up! Also, I bought both my son and my niece these dinosaur Converse sneakers — and they both look totally amazing in them.
In what ways have you bucked gender stereotypes and introduced new, fun things to your littles? Please share in the comments!