Thursday, January 26, 2017


If Snowdrop were a boy, I'd be proud of the wealth of play experiences here, at the farmhouse for him. There are the trains and trucks and building blocks, but there are the kitchen toys and Duplo characters as well. There is a baby doll. Crayons for art projects, music at the press of a button, books, puzzles -- in other words a range of stuff that crosses traditional gender lines in any direction.

But Snowdrop is not a boy. And every time I see her delight in something that has been traditionally regarded as girl's play (a baby doll, or the characters that she endlessly arranges in some imaginative story formation) I feel that I'm feeding a stereotype. You can give a boy a hammer and feel pride in seeing him pound away at a board, but putting a girl into a homemaking role feels to me like I'm telling her to stay home and fix dinner for the family while her partner goes out to build spaceships and save the world.

Sure, I raised two daughters to be smart, independent women. At the time, the horror for me was in the Barbie doll and I tried to have our home remain a Barbie-free zone. That worked until my girls went to school and made friends and so one way or another that horrid skinny piece of plastic made it to our house. I like to believe that Barbies did not warp their minds in any way, but still, I profoundly disliked having her and her sassy friends be part of the girls' play loot.

As for Snowdrop, well, I know it's in my head and yes, yes, Snowdrop has lots of rockets and blocks and, too, a vast array of ahah's tools to admire (and admire them she does!) but still, it took me a very long while to give her something that I knew she'd love, but that somehow felt too girlish to indulge. But given her love of pretend food play I finally broke down today and gave her a tea set. Hey, she has watched me make tea for myself since she was an infant! Having her pour fake tea into tiny tea cups is no different than giving her fake pizza to slice or fake tools to pound, right?

Maybe. But I know what draws her in is the visual appeal of the "tea party." Here, I set it up for her before she came over:

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Perhaps a boy would love this too, but I have the uncomfortable feeling that Snowdrop will love it more.

Breakfast. In the sun room. No, there is no sun. Not even a pretense of sun, but maybe if you will it then it shall come.

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(And one more photo of Ed, because it is rare that he lets me take a decent photo of him and today he let me.)

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(The landscape, on my way to shop for groceries...)

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When I pick Snowdrop up, I see that she is all dressed for the great outdoors. And still, I am too willing to given in to her insistence that she dress for comfort rather than warmth. She's okay with the snow pants. She is mostly okay with a cap. But mittens? Forget it. They don't give her the dexterity she craves and so she will have none of them!

It's just at freezing. She is in fact happy to stay outside for a while, insisting on helping with snow clearing.

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I have a hard time convincing her that her services are not really required. She finally puts down the heavy shovel, but the broom stays with her for a while.

Ed joins us and we walk down to the barn to visit with the hens.

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(Helping to get past the slippery spots...)

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Butter is laying again but she is the only one. Useless hens!

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And then we come back to the farmhouse and she sees the tea set and toy cakes and oh so predictably, she is enchanted.

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Totally enchanted, though it takes her a while to share some of this stuff with gaga or penguin. Eventually she parts with a cup and a cake, but she eyes it with great care lest I run with it and never come back.

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Oh happy girl! But then, Snowdrop smiles her way through many hours of the day.

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And yes, we do eventually move away from the tea party. She even gives a truck a push and then settles into the more serious affair of writing post-it notes.

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Dusk. She wakes up from her nap all smiles: I want to go downstairs to the tea party! -- she tells me in that half sleepy voice. Oh boy. Or -- oh, girl!?

I divert her again with a puzzle. Note the theme of it!

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And we return to drawing. And coloring. And she so wants ahah to color with us. And he does. Eiffel Tower!

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But the tea set comes back to close our evening. She was apprehensive about sharing initially. Not anymore. Ahah gets the full tea and cake presentation.

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And I ask him -- have you ever played with a tea set before?

Will it surprise you that the answer is "yes?" When he was a little boy (the youngest of three sons), he had both a little stove and a tea set...