I honestly felt a little bit like a revolutionary when I encouraged our son to buy a baby doll. But the truth is that baby Brian Hotcakes didn’t smash the patriarchy as much as he made friends with it and invited the patriarchy over to play a nicer, gentler game. Here are six honest things that happened after I gave my son a doll:
- Our son’s uncle made fun of him for playing with a doll.
- I firmly shut that misogyny down right in front of our son and the family. A good teachable moment for all of them.
- My husband and I told our son what a good daddy he is to Brian Hotcakes, and my heart filled to see his pride at the thought of being a good father to his little baby just like his father is to him.
- My son gives the baby to me sometimes and asks me to take care of him. Then he talks about how we cared for him when he was a baby, and it makes him so happy to imagine it.
- Honestly, our son mostly ignores his doll. Every once in a while, he plays make-believe with him or wants to have him for sleeping, but the doll isn’t more important than his stuffed scorpion, say, and is decidedly a less important friend than our son’s excavator.
- This picture is a typical play session our son had with Brian Hotcakes. They played “ranger station” together. Here you see Hotcakes posted on lookout while our son hunted stuffed animals. I love this thoughtful set up with the flashlight, spotting scope, and walkie-talkie. Too bad Brian Hotcakes fell asleep when he was supposed to be keeping track of where the leopard pride was headed!
My point is our job as parents is to help our children be comfortable being themselves. I don’t need to encourage my son to play at changing his baby’s diaper, I don’t need to discourage him from tenderly hugging his little Hotcakes. I simply need to provide a safe space where he and his boy can kill leopards to their hearts’ content or whatever else it is they want to do.
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