Around the Blogosphere, there has been a lot of discussion regarding “gender-neutral” toys in recent months. There’s been a lot of finger-pointing at toymakers and retailers for allegedly embracing stereotypes, though more often then not, I tend to see parents making an attempt to guide their children toward or away from certain playthings – not some faceless, corporate overlords. I say, “let the kids play with what they’d like.”
My oldest daughter, Addie, is a few months past her third birthday as of this writing, and one thing she’s practically been infatuated with since birth is cars. No, not the Disney-Pixar movie CARS (though she loves that, too), but anything with four wheels and an engine. We’re not quite sure why she gravitated toward them so heavily, but she did, and it’s adorable. From B. Toys’ “Wheeee-ls!” to the Fisher-Price Little People “Wheelies,” by toddler time she was building a fleet. Now, at Age 3 she’s becoming well-versed in the world of Hot Wheels and Matchbox. Good for Daddy, because I love those, too.
If we‘re heading out for a bit, the little one will gladly jump into the driver’s seat and make an attempt to “drive” our car. Instead, we promise to let her take a spin in her Power Wheels Barbie Volkswagen when we get home.
Yes, my little girl is octane-obsessed, and while we’ve come across a few kindred spirits every so often, her love of cars still comes as a surprise to some parents we encounter at our play group, or in the toy aisles of our local retailers. “Why don’t they make more pink Hot Wheels?” asked one mother as we discussed gender roles while her son played with my daughter using some wooden vehicles from Melissa and Doug. I answered her question with a question, “How many people do you know that drive a pink car in real life?”
My wife and I are guilty of deciding early-on to try steering our girls away from the “Pink Princess” world, yet somehow, Addie discovered that on her own as well. Just as we don’t know how exactly she started loving cars, she now loves dresses, crowns, and wands as well.
Whatever path our little one chooses, we will always be here to guide, but never force. She’s a decision-maker at an early age, and as a parent, it’s fascinating to witness. We embrace her decisions and interests as a part of her own self-expression and personal growth.
Perhaps her interests will stick with her when she grows up, leading her toward a career in motorsports or politics (since we don‘t have royalty)? For now, it’s all about the toys, and Addie can play with whatever she’d like…
…though I have to admit that I hope her car obsession sticks around. I’ve been having an awful lot of fun browsing the Hot Wheels aisle with her.