The One Where I’m That Person, Part 2: the Whiz-Bang/Princess Edition

You remember how I nearly fainted when I saw the quantity of gifts RR received for Christmas?  Well it isn’t just that.  It’s the bells and whistles on those presents.  It’s the branding.  It’s the princesses.

Obviously, I didn’t learn anything from last year’s toy angst. Yes, I’d like her to play with these two sticks and this roll of cheesecloth, but I’m probably not going to win that battle.  I’m not even sure I want to.  We jest around here about the different childhood I had growing up from my sisters.  Those four critical years or so when it was less about toys and more about pots and pans.  But, I think my parents gave in to it all a little when my sisters and I got older.  We did get toys and we did get trendy things.  Cabbage Patch kids that one year.  And an in-demand early Furby type toy in another.  Somehow though, I grew up with a Wooden Blocks mentality.

Things that light up, buzz, move on their own, talk, play drums, etc. are not on the list of things I’d like her to play with at my house.  I worry they’ll stamp on her imagination.  Keep her from making up words for them and begin relying on them to play with her rather than her having to do a bit of work to play with them.  She’s going to spend her entire life bedecked in technology.  I want her to know that there are options that don’t include batteries and I want her to know how to interact with those things.

But that’s just the whiz-bangs.  There is also the early branding kids get.  There are Elmos on her diapers, for pete’s sake.  Look, I grew up watching the Electric Company and Sesame Street, I’m not going to deny the kid a little Elmo.  More importantly, as silly as it sounds, I want her to be part of the conversation when she’s in college and her friends are talking about the important icons of childhood (although they’ll be saying “omg did you watch elmo when he sang that one song?!” instead of childhood icons).  She doesn’t sleep in a beige room with black and white toys and neutral music to entertain her.  She has things.  Some of those things have Elmo.  I wish he wasn’t passively lurking in so many places, but a little Elmo gets a pass.

What doesn’t pass are the princesses.  It’s true, those special snowflakes are getting the blame for all the pink but they (and their redemption/swept-away stories) go too far.  This was the first year that the princesses crept in and I don’t know how to stop them.  I don’t want her to grow up surrounded by zillions of pink, Belle and Cinderella bedecked toys.  I don’t want to skip right past dreaming and into Disney dresses.  If she comes to it on her own (and she will) it’s okay with me.  I just don’t want that subtle message creeping up on her.  I’m not saying this well at all, but Riley is.  Here’s her take from the “girls” asile of a toy store.

Stay tuned for The One Where I’m That Person, Part 3: the Expectations Edition


5 Responses

  1. I understand this… We’re avoiding Elmo as long as we can. We watch old Sesame Street clips on He likes John John counting. I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with pink and princesses, I would hate every minute of it.

    I know we have it easier in some ways because Noah’s not in day care and is therefore more limited in what he’s exposed to. He loves his playlist on, but he still won’t watch tv when he’s downstairs.

    Anyway. It is a tough battle against all the marketing, silly toys, and so on. But I’m sure you both will play with her and love her and guide her along just fine! (Even if you do threaten her with The Crying Game!)

    • Thanks Beth! We’re not complete tyrants (a bit of elmo now and again saves my sanity) and day care is (ostensibly) free of most of the branding. It doesn’t stop all the other kids though from being walking advertisements for all the colorful cartoon characters. That said, we have a good kid (so far) and there’s only so much I and do to stem the tide 🙂

      • I didn’t think tyrants at all! And yes, even if the day care itself is as responsible as possible – there are the other kids and what they wear and talk about. Yes, it will eventually be important for our kids to know what’s going on culturally and participate in those conversations and such, but I’m hoping that’s not very soon!

  2. I found this fascinating, it’s something that I’ve been aware of, but not having children of my own, it’s not something I have given loads of thought to. I kinda had an idea as to what I wanted to respond as I read through this, but then Riley changed my mind, I think your answer is right there … you can’t sheild her from the marketing and the Princesses, but you can teach her to form her own opinion on them. She will want the things you don’t want her to have, and it will be a battle you will lose, so take the only power you have and use it well, fill her mind with ways to make her own choices, and teach her to recognise everything for what it really is 🙂

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