Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys ... Or Will They?

I love hearing about Little Boo's day at school. It is a whole other world I know nothing about, where he can be himself independent of his family and create his own identity. Heady stuff.

Lately he's been talking a lot about his pretend play. The imaginations of 5 year olds are amazing! His stories are reminding me of a time oh-so-long-ago when I felt safe to be that free and inventive.

But this story is about him...

He plays "family" a lot with his friends. His class is mostly girls, and usually, being a boy, he takes the role of the dad. If another boy is playing with them, that boy gets to be the baby or often the "big brother" (just like home!) I'm not sure if Little Boo is bossy, or a born leader, but at least in his version of these events he seems to play a leadership role.

This week he has been playing "princess."  I think this one is organised by one of his little girlfriends, M. She is a princess and he is the knight/prince who must save her from the evil dragon. This sounds like a pretty complex and multi-level game. Definitely influenced by video games as there are multiple levels of dragons with different "abilities" and Little Boo has a variety of pretend weapons to defeat each one. It's really quite elaborate and impressive to hear him describe the imaginary worlds they create.

But, he doesn't always play the masculine role, which I think is great. He also plays "unicorn" with the girls. And he loves jewelry and My Little Pony and wants those new Zhu Zhu puppies.

He told me last night while watching a commercial for a new Barbie, "Mama, M says Barbies are only for girls." "Really?" "Yeah, but she's wrong. Boys can play with Barbies if they like. I'd like one."

We've never actively pushed gender roles on him. He has a variety of toys from across the spectrum, though he's chosen lots of trucks and dinos for sure. He does seem to play with most of them in a fairly typical boy way - crashing and smashing and battling. But he gently brushes the hair of his little ponies. And it does make me happy that he can see beyond the stereotypes and ask for a Barbie doll.

It will be interesting to see how long this flexibility and openness lasts.

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