Dropping in briefly on one of the endless discussions of the "gendering" of children’s toys–a topic on which I feel the mixed emotions of A) there is no justification for the all-pink aisle at Target but B) all the Barbies really do kinda need to be together for shopping ease, like all the fruit and all the underwear, so what’re you gonna do?–and the glum tangential discussion of why, when you buy a "boy" toy for a little girl, you so often do not get a small feminist who knows she can play with any toy she wants, you just get a very angry little girl.
I have my own theory–kids are basically perverse, and whatever toy they want at any given point is the one that will cause you the maximum amount of mental anguish. I think they can smell it on you. The only evidence of this I can offer is the tic that starts up in Kevin’s right eye when one of his mentions Pokemon, and the fact that a buddy of mine, a tough-minded female gamer who knows kung-fu, who refused to buy a shred of pink anything through her daughter’s entire infancy, now has an offspring known as "the Pink Tornado" who likes princesses.*
Of course, she also likes the Dragonbreath books, so we will forgive the pink for someone with such impeccable taste in literature.
My own grandmother, who had a host of positive qualities but was a product of her time, refused to buy me He-Man action figures like my cousin, as I think I’ve mentioned a time or two.** I did okay anyway. Mostly what I wanted were animal toys anyhow, so all the Strawberry Shortcakes got tossed on a pile with naked Barbies, and their little rubber animals played with the My Little Ponies.
None of which is my point.
My point, and the thing I remembered with startling clarity, that I hadn’t thought of in years, was how Grandma wanted me to go to "charm school" (do they even still make those?) and take dancing lessons.
Ten-year-old me took it about as well as you’d expect.
U10: I don’t want to take dancing lessons. I want to take fencing lessons!
G: Fencing….? No boy is going to come up to you and ask "Do you fence?"
U10: Why not?
Well, Grandma was correct, insomuch as no boy ever has come up to me and asked "Do you fence?" (and since I never did learn how, it wouldn’t do much good if they had, and anyway, my head was full of Princess Bride and Red Sonja and I would have been sorely disappointed with the lack of swashbuckling available inconventional fencing anyhow.)
I suspect that ten-year-old me–who hadn’t quite figured out that her life would ultimately more closely resemble Eat Pray Love *** than Narnia–just wanted to be prepared for the duel that she knew was coming at some point, but I dunno. Maybe she understood things about foreplay that I have largely forgotten. (Unfortunately, given my luck with sharp objects, those will likely remain permanently untested.)
I have no real point, I just thought that was an interesting slice of life.
*The number of good and decent parents who have expressed their anguish over the Disney princess thing and the fact that their daughters just loooove it never fails to make cringe and chuckle by equal turns.
**Sigh. Skeletor, will you never be mine?
***I admit, I finally read it, after hearing an interview with the author where she failed completely to sound like a barking self-obsessed moonbat. And y’know, there were bits that made me roll my eyes, but there were a lot of bits that made me do that painful-exhale-of-recognition too. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.