On judgmental bastardry and little kids


ALTERNATE TITLE 1: Why I Need to Have a Daughter
ALTERNATE TITLE 2: Why Everyone should be Glad I Don’t Have a Daughter
ALTERNATE TITLE 3: Why Liberals are Dumbasses and Don’t Run Anything

The boy’s at a birthday party right now.  I’m not at the party, but my wife is; as someone who has run dozens of parties over the years for young kids where the adults way outnumbered the kids, I long for the days when it was okay to just drop your child off at a birthday party and then just go away for a couple of hours, but that’s not how society– or at least the parts of it I move in– works any longer.  I wouldn’t have objected to going, for the record, but I had some stuff to do around here and she volunteered.  So she’s there and I’m here.

The party’s for one of the girls in his class at Hogwarts.  I had been meaning all week to email her parents and ask for some details about what she might want for her birthday, and finally remembered to do it yesterday.  Mom responded pretty promptly.  The first sentence of the email was “Oh, she’s all girl.”


I would kinda have liked some more specificity than that, but whatever; basically it meant go to the Pink Aisle and close your eyes and pick something.(*)  My wife and I went through this fun and stupid rigamarole in the Pink Aisle last night where neither of us really wanted to get her something froofy and glittery and princessy but that’s basically all there is; I suggested a couple of different (mostly pink and purple!) age-appropriate Lego sets when my son came running over with a Barbie doll dressed as a superhero.

Just under $20, Barbie, and the boy literally picked it out.  Fine.  Done.

The mental subcurrent of all this, of course, is that while I don’t especially like the idea of plastering kids with this is for boys and this is for girls, it ain’t like my own son isn’t into superheroes.  Of course, so is his daddy, and I suspect if I had a daughter she’d be just as able to tell you about the Hulk and Iron Man as he is, but I don’t have a daughter, now, do I, so who knows how much reinforcing of The Patriarchy I’d be doing as a parent compared to how much I’m already doing, and who the fuck am I to try and subtly condition somebody else’s kid by trying to find a toy for her that isn’t ridiculously gendered when I have never not once suggested my own son go into the Pink Aisle when he was hunting for toys for himself.

(Did you know there are girl Nerf toys?  I did not know this.)

So, yeah, whatever, we got the kid a Barbie doll, and somehow I managed to turn buying a gift for a five-year-old who I think I can pick out of a lineup, maybe, into some sort of political act, because that’s exactly the sort of stupid wanker I am sometimes.  And then my wife texted me from the party while I was busy hanging a mirror at home (let’s not let the gendered nature of that little detail escape us, either) to inform me that this party had blue ribbon water and pink ribbon water and she’d just heard one of the boys loudly insist that he needed the “boy water.”  This was, thankfully, not my son.

So.  Yeah.

That happened.

We shoulda gotten the kid a soccer ball.

(*) And I should make this explicit, too– Mom was trying to be helpful, and her point was “Don’t stress yourself out too much about a present.”  She explicitly said that her daughter would be perfectly happy just to have all of her friends there.  This post is about I’m an idiot sometimes, not Jeez, look at how these people I barely know are raising their kid, just to make perfectly certain we understand each other.

21 thoughts on “On judgmental bastardry and little kids

  1. As I’ve aged, and become a mom in this insane world, my thinking on this subject has changed. I remember 25 years ago, picking out a Barbie for my cousin’s daughter without a 2nd thought, not because I like Barbie’s but because that was what you bought for little girls. Fast forward to today, and I try very hard to find out what the child in question wants. And it can vary with the child. One of my daughter’s friends is Hello Kitty, all the way. Another is all about science. It depends on the kid. Take my daughter for instance. She’s 11 now. At birth, I refused to clothe her in pink, opting to let her pick what she wanted when she was old enough to chose. Guess what she chose. Pink, and purple, and glittery above all. She loved Belle and all the Disney princess. I gritted my teeth and let her. Then it was Disney fairies, with blues and purples. Then Littlest Pet Shop, and My Little Pony, and the rainbow. Then Legos Friends came out. And she discovered Minecraft, and Dr. Who. And Lego Expert Builder sets. And never pink, or purple, just blue. But now green, thank you very much. But maybe a little sparkly wouldn’t be too bad.

    I guess basically what I meant to say, before I went off on that long ramble (sorry), is that I try to give each child something that they want, because their tastes change as they get older, and may surprise you down the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really really want to have a great big feminist rant here but I won’t so I’ll say instead: cool. Barbie has a superhero persona? Who knew? And I’ll leave all my other well intentioned slightly intrusive questions for my own snooping brain. Thank you. That is all.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah but no but… Also my work in cultural psychology and my own constructivist belief system informs me that most gender identity is socially constructed. Also, as my daughter is transgender, I win the internet today. However as it is nearly impossible to separate brain construction and neural path development from cultural and social norms there are some who would argue that gender identity is a biological function. However, I am a social scientist, not a science scientist. So this is the extent of my knowledge and argument.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. True. OK then. Small feminist rant coming your way. Maybe not, it makes me tired. Let me just earn my 77%-of-male’s wage and pay more for hygiene products when they’re pink coloured and shop in the pink aisle because apparently all girls only like pink Barbies and Lego is apparently gendered too (not when I was a kid though, oh no no no) and then buy a monopoly set without Rey (and other awesome frog-like women) in it. SIGH.

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  3. I actually have one of the girl Nerf guns. I was kind of excited about it until I discovered that they just decorated a regular Nerf gun, and didn’t actually make it smaller for girl hands. I can’t fire it with one hand. 😦


    1. Though I just looked at the site you linked, and they seemed to have changed the types of weapons since I got mine a couple years ago, so maybe no longer true.


  4. if you don’t turn every move you make add a parent intoa political statement, someone else will be right there ready to do it for you. and we ‘misplaced’ plenty of shit into the goodwill bin over the years because yeah, no, HE doesn’t need a frighteningly realistic toy firearm and SHE can’t really use that doll that looks like a sex surrogate and they both grew up to be what they are regardless.

    mostly? I give gift cards. the kid’s OWN parents can do battle in the pink aisle. or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My 8yo son wanted one of those girls Nerf guns (it was a crossbow of sorts) because it was purple and that’s his absolutely favourite colour in the whole world, followed closely by pink…
    I wish his dad would be as ok with my son’s love for purple as my wife and I are.


  6. J.R.Barker

    As I kid I hated pink, but I think I mostly hated it because as a girl I was expected to like it. I can to associate pink with plastic cr**p. This is the first time I’ve admitted it though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh, I know right? I HATE the color pink. I’ve already informed my fiance that I will not be buying pink for any future daughters, even if it means I have to tell people a million times that she’s a GIRL not a boy. If she learns to like pink later on, well so be it, but I’m not about to be the one to tell her she has to!!!

      Cue thoughts about why pink shaving razors cost more than men’s razors, and all following feminist arguments…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. J.R.Barker

        Apparently back in the days of yore Pink was a boys colour and blue a girls.
        Unless you have twin babies, and need to tell the genders apart, I don’t really see why any gender should be assigned a colour, just seems odd to me.
        I can now admit it to myself I hate the colour more on principle than actual dislike of the colour, although I truly and fully detest pink sets of anything i.e horse get up/ car interiors/ outfits etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I like the comendy in your writing. In my opinon buy your kid whatever, if he wants a doll let him have a doll, if she wants a football let them have a football. It’s each to their own, without politics and sterotyping getting involved. I think i rather have them wanting a barbie than an ipad.


  8. My six year old attended a birthday party last night. We dropped her off and my husband and I went to a local brewery/restaurant and had two blissful hours of a pseudo date night. When we went to pick her up we sat and had a drink with the parents before bringing her home. Best kid’s birthday party ever.

    My two daughters have always hated pink. They both prefer blue and green. Both of them have always been more into Pokemon and Minecraft. My 12 year old is into Manga and anime. I love it. I love that they don’t care about what they’re “supposed” to like. Both of them have had some minor “mean girls” moments because they didn’t want to play house or family during recess, but they both shrugged it off and ran around with the boys until they were sweaty and filthy.

    Here’s where my issues come in. When I was pregnant with my first daughter I was petrified. I was so scared she was going to be a Barbie loving, shrieking over boy bands, cheerleader type. I was worried that I would never be able to relate to her if that’s who she was. I dodged that “bullet” but apparently I HAVE ISSUES.


  9. With two girls, I walked this tightrope all their childhood. My request for not an all-pink wardrobe, caused grandparents to knit brown garments!
    I have reviewed searching for Malumba on my blog at last. I will get stuff up on Amazon etc soon too.


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