A few days ago I wrote about the “Truck” gene and how my 18-month-old grandson was totally “gaga” over trucks. Well, that’s still true, but there’s another side to the story that pleases me no end.
Before Christmas my daughter-in-law, Julie, decided to give Olivia, Nate’s twin sister, a baby stroller and baby doll. The more she thought about it, however, the more concerned she became over not doing the same for Nate. Her motivation was partly philosophical (not wanting to perpetuate gender stereotypes) and partly practical ( knowing how Nate and Olivia, fight over toys). Because of these concerns, and despite feeling a bit extravagant, she purchased an identical stroller and similar baby doll for Nate.
Turns out it was a good thing that she did. Although his two Christmas trucks still hold a special place in his heart, he is also enthusiastically tooling around the house with a baby doll (any will do) in his stroller! Not only that, but he was the first of the two children to put a doll to bed in the wooden toy cradle that my husband and I made for them and rock the cradle back and forth! Actually, it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise because the twins witness their dad, Jim, doing these kinds of things every single day with a smile on his face and obvious joy in his heart.
What lessons do I take from this? Here’s the first: Yes, both girls and boys may have a hierarchy for play, placing one type of toy at the very top (trucks for Nathan), but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also get pleasure out of others. Like adults, children are not one-dimensional. The second lesson is even more important: Especially if they see the males they love modeling such behavior, little boys who love trucks can also love nurturing children and see it as a natural activity than any girl or boy can truly enjoy.
Happy New Year!
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis