There has been much in the media about the gender stereotyping around children’s toys and how stores such as Toys R Us are no longer going to label toys as “boys” or “girls” (Daily Mail Article and Huffington Post Article). Having boy/girl twins like Biscuit and Cracker gives me a special insight into boy/girl toys.
From day one of finding out that I was pregnant with twins we have always been totally fair with everything we have got for them; clothes, toys, etc. If we found something for our little boy, we always looked for something for our little girl, and vice versa. Obviously, when they were first born their toys were very similar. They had teddies and rattles and stacking cups in lots of lovely primary colours. As they are getting older there does seem to be more pink, ‘girlie things’ for Biscuit and blue, ‘boy things’ for Cracker. For girls such as Biscuit the advertisers push dolls, cleaning and cooking equipment and even pink and purple Mega Bloks. The adverts for boys like Cracker are for blocks, cars and trucks.
Of course, in my house, everything that one of them has the other ones shares and uses. This means that Cracker has always had dolls and pink things to play with and Biscuit has had access to cars, trucks and planes. They both use blocks and building sets. We have never stopped them picking whatever they’d like to play with, whatever that may be (within reason, all children seem to have this amazing want for TV remotes, mobile phones and game controllers!). They quite happily play with each and every toy in their reach, whoever it may be aimed at.
They do play very differently though. Cracker is much more “boisterous” in his entire character. He is very physical, enjoys throwing things and knocking things down. Saying this, he is the most cuddly of the twins and will always hug and kiss you. Biscuit has just, in the last three weeks or so, started really falling for teddies and dolls. She will pick them up and cuddle them, she has even done this with baby Jesus and angel Gabriel from our nativity! She is much more thoughtful in how she plays and will pick one toy and focus on that for a while. This type of play, for me, really sums up the whole ‘nature vs nurture’ debate. We do not treat either of them differently, we play with them just the same and they are very lucky in that they spend equal time with both Rob and I.
I will never stop either of my children from doing anything they want. If Biscuit wishes to join a predominantly male industry then good luck to her. If Cracker wants to for his career to be in a traditionally female industry then we shall support him. As long as they are happy and fulfilled then I am a happy Mama.
Do not forget those amazing toys available such as books, art equipment and Aquadoodle when buying for your, and other peoples, children. Our two have also had lots of ELC’s HappyLand toys for Christmas this year. I feel that this sort of toy helps foster a good imagination without resorting to gender stereotypes to interest the parents and the children. Some of the HappyLand sets are actually very empowering. The ‘Heroes’ set has a nurse, a fireman, a policeman with a police dog and a female doctor! There is also a train set which is played with by both Biscuit and Cracker in equal measure.