Saturday, November 08, 2008

Cars, kids and convention

When in traffic queues, the conventional desire is to be in the faster-moving lane. However, if I am driving with my son, he is loudly disapproving of this policy. He declares, "I want to be in a traffic jam!"

He also anticipates roadworks with a fervour and delight hitherto unseen. If he isn't with us, and we return from any car journey, a tale of roadworks observed and car transporters overtaken will keep him enthralled. We are careful to remember taxis and traffic lights we may have seen for his later delectation.

I was showing him under the bonnet the other day, pointing out the wiry bits and the doodads*, and a passer-by commented "Starting him young, aren't you?" Well, yes, he is only little - but then you've got to play to your children's interests, haven't you?

It's funny, I never intended to allow gender stereotyping to play into my parenting, but it's deeply ingrained socially and somehow very hard to avoid all the time. My daughter wanted pinks, baby dolls and Bratz, hideous though they might be, especially when she was younger. The Bratz were actually very shortlived in interest, thankfully, and the moving/crying baby dolls got thrown out. Huzzah. Freaky things. I shall see if we can foist the Bratz on someone else with Christmas coming up and all.

On the bright side, both of them will play with the normal baby dolls & pushchairs, cooking sets, cars and trains. And my son always wants to paint his nails. On this matter, I'm glad for the school uniform rules that prevent anyone wearing it, because while I want him to be free to dress up and play as he wishes, I don't want the older children there to pick on him. Principles and all that fly out the window when it's my child on the line. School uniform is wonderful for saving me from a sticky situation and we can break out the nail varnish at the weekend.

* I didn't want to get too technical there. I can actually point out the main engine parts correctly 'though, despite the suggestion to the contrary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I say indulge your children, even if they are hideously gender-stereotyped in their desires. If you're raised by a feminist mother who sneered at feminine clothes and toys, (as I was) and you were brought up to look like a boy with short hair your whole childhood, and you only learnt aspects of femininity way too late in the game, you end up cherishing conformity and "being just like everyone else" as the best thing in the world. If your child *wants* to rebel and be different, great, but let it be his or her choice and not yours. Conformity is great, it's such a relief to blend in with others of the same gender. There are all sorts of things about being a girl that you can only learn by being allowed to be feminine as a child, you can't catch up later, and I think my daughter misses out on some things because I just haven't got a scooby. Like, doing interesting things with long hair, I'm keen but I know nothing about it. I will have to teach myself. My nephew C used to wear Disney princess balldresses around the house. His Nana didn't make a big deal of it but indulged his desires happily. Nowadays, he dresses as either James Bond or David Tennant as Dr Who when he gets home from school. We think it means he is going to be an actor one day. It's possible, that if Nana had said no and acted upset about the balldress stage, he may have got all screwed up about it. I think she did the right thing. :) Abster x