Apparently, people are still freaking out about Target getting rid of “boy toy” and “girl toy” designations. As this is such a scary prospect that I’m still seeing it on Facebook weeks after it was announced, I had to do some self examination.
You see, my parents let me play with both “boy toys” and “girl toys” when I was growing up. I had a little lawnmower that spewed bubbles and I would push it around the yard when my dad mowed. I also had a wheelbarrow so I could carry wood from our wood pile to our house the way my dad did. I had a tool belt so I could fix things the way my dad did. I was allowed to “help” with our vegetable garden (and had my own shovels and such). I learned basic mechanical engineering and landscaping.
When I became interested in dinosaurs, my dad climbed up in the attic of his childhood home and found his toy dinosaurs from when he was a little boy. He gave them to me and would play dinosaurs with me. I learned about paleontology, biology (e.g. the difference between carnivores and herbivores – yes, 5 year old me knew those words thanks to dinosaurs), and history.
My father taught me how to build houses out of blocks – both buildings that we would make up and also ones that followed plans (normally pictures that came with the set). Through this, I learned boy skills like spatial reasoning and architecture (and what a load bearing wall is). When math scared me, my dad invented the “flash card game” (which I didn’t think was a game at all – flash cards are NOT fun) to help me memorize my addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables. Tremble, all of you! A girl knows math!
Less anyone believe only my dad was involved in this horrible behavior of introducing me to “boy toys,” my mom also got involved. I’ll always remember when Wendy’s Kids’ Meals had boy toys and girl toys. The boy toy was this set of really awesome cars. They looked like a cross between rocket ships and cars, and when you pulled them back and let them go, they drove themselves across the floor a little ways. I thought they were awesome, and asked my mom for the “car toy.” When the cashier seemed confused – did my mom realize that the car was for boys? – my mom simply reiterated that this was the toy we wanted. I got my car (and eventually the whole set) and had hours of fun. I still have those cars to this day. My mom did not blink when I decided my Barbie dolls would design water parks, go on safari, pursue careers in medicine or become entrepreneurs, work as rescue workers after natural disasters, or go bungee jumping for fun. When I would pretend to be an explorer, my mom showed me how to build a tent in the back yard. She would humor my desire to do science projects in the kitchen. When I wanted to take apart an old stereo my uncle gave me as a teenager, her only response was “just don’t electrocute yourself.”
This sort of play apparently terrifies those opposed to Target’s removal of gender designations for toys. Since I’m already grown up, we can look at me and see how girls turn out when they’re allowed to play with both “boy toys” and “girl toys.”
I grew up to obtain multiple degrees, to include advanced degrees in science and law, and have a successful career as an attorney.
Clearly, my parents failed me.