Friday, December 14

Malone on what to buy for her daughter’s birthday

- August 8, 2011

It’s a strange thing buying a toy for a five year old. Choosing a birthday present feels like I’m not just buying a toy, it feels like I’m deciding which views of the world I’m going to impress onto my child.

I’m considering a Barbie doll… where life is about changing outfits frequently and having a pony. Why isn’t there a Barbie who wears jumpers, works in a call centre and can be accessorised with a sofa and a PS3?

Call centre Barbie! That seems more modern. Or I could buy her accessories for her Baby Annabell. She already has the crying baby (finally found that elusive off button…) and the buggy, changing bag, etc that goes with it.

Now I understand that children like to act out adults in their play and pretending to be a nice, nurturing baby-changing mamma is probably a good thing (rather than acting out moody doctors’ receptionists.)

“When she was little she wanted to play with cars. Then she was given dolls…”

“C’mon Timmy, lets play moody doctors’ receptionists! I’ll be the poorly lady who can’t get an appointment till next week even though her leg has fallen off and you be the receptionist with a chip on her shoulder!”

Sometimes I feel like I’m just allowing her to follow stereotypes. When she was little she wanted to play with cars. Then she was given dolls…

Her friend visited the other day and he said disappointedly looking around her room, “I don’t play with dolls, I play with cars”. And I wondered how different his play must be, while my daughter is acting out feelings and behaviour.

“Oh, poor baby you are sick, have this medicine.” She’s acting out compassion and nurturing, while this little boy is re-enacting the grand prix around his room.

Perhaps this play nurtures a natural competitiveness and imprints the feeling of winning in his psyche (I’m guessing he’s not acting out losing the race…).

I have no idea what complex anthropological events are happening when they play but I’m thinking we can guide them towards things we think might be good for them. I’m thinking of compromising and buying her a Barbie doll that’s a doctor!

There is one! She wears a rather short skirt, though. If my doctor looked like that there’d be a lot more male patients in the waiting room wanting prostrate checks. Do you think playing being a doctor might make her want to be a doctor? Do I think that playing with a baby will turn her into a teenage mum?

Or that her car-playing friend will become Lewis Hamilton? I guess not. But I’ve ordered the Doctor Barbie just in case – and a few racing cars…


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