So call me naive, ignorant, or just plain stupid, but I had no idea that McDonald's had "boy" and "girl" toys for their Happy Meals. When we swung through the drive through after a trip to the Children's Museum on Saturday, the cashier taking our order asked if the Happy Meal we ordered was for a girl or a boy. Flustered, I answered "boy," but honestly had no idea why they asked. It only occurred to me as we pulled up to the window that the toys were different for girls and boys. On the occasions when Hollis has gotten Happy Meals in the past, he's been with us in the restaurant and we were never given a toy choice. I guess everyone just assumed he wanted the "boy" toy because, looking back on it, he's never received anything remotely girly, pink, or even Disney in his earlier Happy Meals. (This time Hollis ended up getting some sort of dragon Yu-gi-oh thing but I have no idea what the "girl" toy was. It might have been much cooler. The dragon thing only held Hollis's interest for a few minutes and then he handed it over to his brother for chewing.)
After I worked myself up into a lather over McDonald's policy of gender stereotyping our nation's children, it occurred to me that I haven't been much better. I don't overtly hand out "girl" and "boy" toys but almost all of my toy choices for H&H have been traditional boy or gender neutral toys. They have lots of blocks, toy cars, trucks, books about trucks, truck puzzles, and truck jammies, but no baby dolls. Despite the fact that Hollis loves to try to help us cook and clean, he doesn't even have a toy kitchen or pots and pans. The closest we've come to encouraging the domestic arts in my son is the toy vacuum cleaner that we routinely hide in the closet because the constant whirring of the motor drives us insane. So, for all of my talk about raising children outside of the boundaries of traditional sexual stereotypes, I've fallen right into the "boy" toy trap myself.
So how do I fix this? I need to look more closely at whether or not I'm unconsciously steering my boys in a certain direction and make sure that I allow them to make choices. T and I already model the behaviors and attitudes we want to instill in our boys, so I am positive that they will grow up to be strong, independent men who respect and seek out strong, independent women. What we do in our home is the easy part. What concerns me more are the attitudes H&H will encounter once they leave our home - for daycare, school, sports, and, of course, McDonald's. I just hope that I can help them develop enough self-confidence to ask for the "girl" toys they want and the wisdom to ignore what anyone says about their choices.