Today, the postman brought a huge package. A package that Karsten and myself have been looking forward to as if we ourselves are four years old again. See, since two years we are slowly changing from a pure adult household to a adult-and-children household. While we always had a wide range of board games in our living room, we are now accompanied by (among others) a large amount of soft animals, various baby toys, puzzles, a door case theater, modelling clay, many different kinds of crayons, a children stove and many, many books. And Duplo.
Since a few weeks, the little one really started to play. She is imagining her own stories, playing dialogues with different voices and very keen on making different objects become alive. Last week, for instance, she started a dialogue with her fork while we had dinner. We had a small amount of duplo already, but just a few animals, bricks and, since christmas, the café. When we were invited to one of her friends recently, she was overwhelmed by a huge box of duplo, including trains, a zoo, buildings and and and. Ok, I admit it, I was overwhelmed as well and I decided that it is time to collect a bit more of it so that we have a bit of a variety. (Not as much as the little one’s friend though. Because there the parents managed to change from an adult household to a complete children household. There is not one spot without toys. Characteristic adult features are the tv and the laptop, but apart from that it’s toys everywhere. Unbelievable!). So we bought a few more simple bricks and – tadaaaaa – the train set. It was in said package today.
The little one was quite enthused. First, the box was exciting. Then the wrapping paper was fascinating. Then she discovered the actual Duplo box and was happy. And when she couldn’t lift it, she decided to sit on it and to clean between her toes (one of her quirks). When we finally opened the box, we started a play session that lasted until dinner time. Really, it’s an awesome toy to imagine stories and to build stuff (one of the little one’s favorite things to do with Duplo is to build “patterns”).
There is just one big disadvantage that I discovered. The gender issue. Seriously, it raises my hackles. Of course the train set includes only men. Working men. Tough. With tools. And guess what the café set included? Girls. With blonde hair and pink dresses. So the men are working with trains and the girls go out and drink coffee? Sure…..
We have seriously tried to avoid the gender issue. We have tried not to buy pink or purple clothes as there are so many other beautiful colors that one could wear. Green, blue, yellow, or how about a nice, strong red instead of pink? But with many clothes being handed down to us from friends, pink and purple found their ways into our home and since the little one connects these clothes with some dear friends she of course adopts the choice of color. That’s fine with me.* What’s not fine with me is that I can’t buy any clothes at certain Swedish shops anymore because the girls section automatically includes tight jeans, mini-skirts and waisted jackets. Why, oh why should my two-year old girl wear a mini-skirt or tight jeans? Is there anything less appropriate for a kid in that age? Anything less practical when it comes to freely roam around and play on the playground? Why can’t the shops just do sections according to the size, without the division into boys and girls, and then let everybody decide for themselves whether to buy something for a girl or not.
And now duplo. A toy that one can find in almost every European family. Why can’t it be a bit more neutral? Is it that hard? Would it sell that badly?
I am glad to say that at least in our household, the train is conducted by a rabbit, the sheep is using the waggon as a swing and the girl with the pink dress lives in the signal-men house. There is still hope…
*And even if she wears a pink skirt or sweater, she is still usually mistaken for a boy when we go somewhere. Why? Because she has a blue winterjackt and blue jeans…