When JustaBXgirl was around two or three she really got into TMNT. She loved dancing to the theme song. She loved doing martial arts kicks around the house. She inherited her older cousin’s Leonardo costume that he had left at our home and didn’t fit any longer. He was probably the reason for her initial love of the turtles because it was something he was into and as her older cousin, JustaBXgirl looked up to him. Then one day, he came over while she was already watching and playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and I guess he didn’t want to watch it or play it because out of nowhere he told her, “Turtles aren’t for girls. You can’t wear the costume or like the show!”
My baby girl was devastated. I remember her coming to me crying saying that she could no longer watch something that she loved. Whew child! I wish I could share that I had a gentle parenting moment with my nephew but I keep it transparent here. I was so angry with him. How dare he?! I did my best to calm JustaBXgirl down. I explained that her cousin was mistaken. I reminded her that I had previously told her that I grew up watching TMNT as well and I’m a girl. I reminded her that there were no such things as boy toys and girl toys. I reminded her that she could and should play with all types of toys so that she could really figure out what she likes and doesn’t like.
The conversation with my nephew went a bit differently! In a nutshell, I told him that he was wrong. Any child can play with any type of toy. I reminded him that he liked playing with Shopkins and JustaBXgirl’s kitchen and that in my house he would never be told he couldn’t play with them so don’t tell my child she can’t play with a type of toy. Then the not so gentle parenting came about where I told him that if he ever did it again he couldn’t play with any toys at my house. This might not seem like that big of a deal but let me remind you that as a blogger’s kid JustaBXgirl has some of the most sought after toys and as JustaBXgrandpa often says, we basically live in a toy store.
I didn’t think about this moment too often after it happened. Every once in a while though JustaBXgirl would bring it up, “remember that time my cousin said I can’t play with Turtles?” We would talk about it a little then it would go away again. Earlier in the school year, JustaBXgirl was learning about sorting and categorizing when the class played a game to sort the students. The teachers would make a statement and if it was true for you then you would move to a certain side of the room. One of the statements said something about playing with toy cars or some other toy that is traditionally thought of as a “boy toy.” JustaBXgirl was the only girl in her class to move to the side of her room with all the boys. She didn’t share this moment with me because it stood out for her. She shared it because she recaps her day at pickup every day. I asked her how she felt about being the only girl in the group. She said it was fine. We talked about how fun it was to race cars and how sad she was when we had to get rid of her wooden race track (it had gotten mold).
I shut my parents down anytime they say that a toy is a girl or boy toy and I try to correct my friends on it too. There are great memes about how important it is for boys to play with dolls and kitchens to make them better men but it doesn’t stop there. Boys and girls need the freedom to play with all types of toys so they can figure out what they like and don’t like. The same thing with tv shows and extracurricular activities.
Here are a few things traditionally considered for boys that my little girl is currently loving:
BizyBeez MagStix Wheel Set – When you talk about building toys people always think to give them to boys for some reason. JustaBXgirl LOVES to build. When we received the BizyBeez set she went right to work. It quickly became a go-to toy for her and I love it. Building toys serve a number of purposes for children. By denying girls the ability to play with them they lose out on real developmental experiences. Building toys like these allow children to use their imagination. They allow children to work on their hand-eye coordination, they introduce engineering concepts.
Heroes of Goo Jit Zu – These are brand new. I saw them at Toy Fair and knew they were just the type of toy the JustaBXgirl would enjoy playing with. They are what happens when stress balls meet action heroes! We have an arena for ours to fight in and JustaBXgirl loves having them throw each other out of it. She wants to collect them all so she can check out what is inside the Goo.
Bakugan – We have shared how much JustaBXgirl enjoys these before. She loves taking them places to play with friends. It is funny because she keeps the fifteen or so that she has stored in a make-up case so when she asks friends if they want to play with her they have no idea what they’re in for!
Wizards and Werewolves – As soon as JustaBXgirl saw this game and Capture The Flag Redux arrive in the mail she was anxious to head out to Long Island and share it with her big cousins. This really is family fun for everyone and we plan on playing it all summer in my cousin’s back yard. JustaBXgirl still loves running, playing and getting dirty. She doesn’t love being dirty but the process of getting there is just so much fun that she can’t resist. Too often girls are told they’re supposed to sit still and look pretty. They aren’t encouraged to be as active as boys because it isn’t ladylike then we wonder why they’re not into athletics. These games allow her to strategize, exercise and practice teamwork.
Scooby-Doo – Here’s something else I grew up watching and love to share with JustaBXgirl. I don’t know why but she eats up all things Scooby-Doo. She has full on belly laughs watching the movies over things that Scooby and Shaggy do. That’s why whenever we get the chance to get our hands on a new Scooby-Doo DVD we do. If you haven’t already introduced your littles to this famous four-legged friend then please plan to this summer.
MMA – I share a lot on social media about JustaBXgirl being in MMA. When she in the class in September 2018 she was the smallest person in the class and the only girl. Four months later as still the only girl, she became the first in her class to earn her white belt. She recently started a new cycle and the class has grown. First class had seventeen students and six of them were girls. In this class, JustaBXgirl is still the only one with her belt. Are the students still bigger than her? Yes, for the most part and definitely in her small cohort of advanced level students. Is she the best? Nope. Is she the strongest? Nope. What she is though is disciplined and determined. When she gets knocked down, she gets right back up again and takes the feedback she’s given to get better.
I’m a firm believer that everyone knows what’s right for their families. I just ask you that if you normally find yourself saying things like, “that’s just for boys,” or “that’s a girls toy,” really stop and think why you believe that. If at the end of the day you hold fast to the belief that some toys are only for boys and others for girls that’s your perogative but pretty please don’t ever catch your mouth forming those words around my daughter.