Birthday presents and gender roles

So.  Coming up in the not-so-distant future is my goddaughter’s third birthday.  YAAAY!!! 

I swear, I never imagined shopping for a birthday present – for a 3-year-old, of all things! – would be so fraught with politics.  I blame the feminist blogs.  (…I don’t really.  I LIKE the feminist blogs, they make me think.  And possibly over-think.)

So here’s the conundrum.  I do not like the idea of “gendered” toys.  I highly, highly dislike the idea that we should be prescribing “proper” gender behavior by giving little boys toys that deal with building and science and sports and war, and giving little girls toys about fashion and cooking and make-your-own-makeup and glitter.  I dislike that little boys can access every color of the rainbow, while a little girl’s toy must come in pre-approved shades of pink, purple, and white.  (Not even joking.  It was the exact same toy – I checked.  The boy version came in every color.  The “girl” version came in those three, and those three only.  That was the only difference.)  And Godbaby’s mother agrees, and also incidentally hates the color pink.  (I actually like pink, in certain shades and in the right proportions.  However, I think that’s directly linked to the fact that I wasn’t inundated with it at a young age – otherwise I’d probably despise it.)

But on the other hand…

As if to prove that children are their own person (people?  Whatever), Godbaby loves the color pink.  And princesses (especially the Disney variety.)  And all things uber-girly.

Soooo… what do I do?  Do I stick to my guns and give her a present that’ll broaden her horizons and cause her to think outside the box, even if it’s not what she would have chosen?  Or do I stick to my guns and respect her choices even though I don’t like them and give her a girly-girl present that I hate buying for her?

In the end, we compromised.  We got one big present – an age-appropriate marble-maze set, where you build your own essentially roller coaster-type track to shoot marbles down.  I don’t care who you are, that’s cool.  Hell, I’d play with that NOW, nevermind that the age recommendations are 3-5 years.

And then we got her a shiny purple-and-green Tiana princess tiara, so that she can play dress-up.

If I had to make a prediction, I’d predict this.  The tiara will go over far better, at least at first.  (And honestly, it’s a pretty cool tiara, and Tiana is my favorite “princess.”  And it’d be pretty hypocritical of me to begrudge her a love of shiny things – lord knows I can be swayed by a pair of dangly sparkly earrings even today.)  But in the days and months and years to come, I’m betting she’ll wind up playing with the marble run more and more often.

Or maybe not.  Maybe she really will have no interest in it, and will always prefer the world of pink glittery girly fashion.  That’s a valid choice and if she does go that route in the end, I’ll still think she’s the bee’s knees, because she is.  But it won’t be because no other options were ever offered or supported.

(…But we still got the marble run in the full-color “boy’s” version, rather than the pink-purple-white “girl’s” version.  The boy’s one still had pink in it.  It just also had all the other colors.)


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