Christmas 2011 – what’s in the (gender) boxes?

Our kids had a great Christmas. They were blessed with many gifts from loving relatives, most of which thrilled them. We always ask folks not to get items with military themes, or commercial characters. While we have a girl obsessed with princesses and brides, and a boy who loves to build and invent, we also try to remember that our girl also loves storytelling, dragons, and trucks, and our boy also loves pink, dresses, and princesses.

Some of our family and friends have more difficulty than others expanding the gender boxes. Our daughter did get dragons, and a highlight was the matching set of play swords and shields — one for each of them.

On the other hand, by noon on Christmas Day, my three year-old daughter had received:

  • a princess and prince magnetic dress-up set
  • a full bridal party Barbie set, complete with cake, presents, veiled bride, groom, bridesmaid, and flower girl
  • a poufy silver dress
  • a Cinderella ballerina doll
  • 2 elfin princess figurines
  • light-up Disney princess sneakers
  • a Disney princess castle

And our five year-old son had received:

  • 3 Transformers vehicles – I confess I’m not up on the names and details, but one is a Camaro with a plasma cannon, and one has a machine gun complete with ammo belt
  • a camouflage-patterned military Humvee, truck, and tank (the last of which is also a Transformer)
  • an Optimus Prime shirt
  • 2 knight figurines on horseback

And you know what? The kids loved all these presents, so what’s the problem?

Here’s the text from the Barbie set: Girls can play out the role of bride and bridal party with Barbie I Can Be a Bride Gift Set. Plus, with access to online content they can also create a digital destination, allowing them to further “try on” the role as well! Code inside each package unlocks career-themed content online.

Here is some of the description of one of the Transformers tank toys: So impressive a figure as to almost seem like some drunken dream born from excesses of fermented energon, the Voyager Class Bludgeon marks the upgrade of the Deluxe Class version into a Japanese Type 90 with a robot mode based upon the Pretender shell of the Gen 1 Bludgeon; constructed to resemble a depraved skeletal samurai with malevolent red eyes. The stories of Bludgeon’s indiscriminate carnage have reached venerable Autobot Ironhide, prompting the latter to seek out the former.

Just because my daughter’s strongest future goal at the moment does seem to be planning a wedding, is it wrong for me to want to steer her away from thinking of getting married as a career option? I actually think the way Transformers convert from vehicles to figures is really cool and inventive; is it wrong for me to think there’s a problem with an entire series that has no other plot or purpose than unending battle?

It all connects to that ongoing question — how do we honor who our kids are, without limiting who they can be?

This entry was posted in Gender complexity, Holidays, Toys and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Christmas 2011 – what’s in the (gender) boxes?

  1. Pingback: Buy This Instead! | Pink Is for Boys

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