My son Arlo has just turned one. How the hell did that happen? Time has flown faster than a pimped-out turbo boosted Pinky Ponk.
Now for anyone who hasn’t seen my son, and I ask you, why the hell aren’t you following my Instagram(!), to look at him, he’s a proper (for want of a less cringey term) ‘little man’. A tough cookie who was walking at 10 months, scaling floor to ceiling book shelves at 11 months and is being touted as a wildcard for the England 6 Nations Rugby squad next year… no, really.
But enough talk of his burly stature, I want to touch on what he got for his birthday and why I think one toy in particular is specifically important to him and his development, whilst also serving as an ‘up-yours’ to the narrow-minded out there.
Like a lot of boys, Arlo loves his cars and trains, and he kicks a ball around the sitting room with the nimbleness of a young Maradona (much like the Argentinian, he also uses his hands from time to time). But there’s one particular present he recently received that he holds with an extra dose of love and affection, and that toy is a baby doll. Yep, a doll.
Now, for many, me included, this is great. It’s lovely that he has a bond with a toy, one he snuggles eagerly and it’s fascinating to watch him display a fondness that seems so deep for one so young. Comically, he knows to feed it (shove a plastic fork towards its gob) and he also knows to put it to bed under a blanket (he might actually be smothering it to death but it looks cute). But, and it’s a big but, sadly this doll isn’t appreciated by a lot of dads as an appropriate toy for a son, because, well, he’s a boy, and dolls are for girls, right?
Well, said dads and their attitudes are frankly bigoted and just plain annoying.
The fact that a baby doll is a supposedly girl’s toy is a ridiculous failure on a lot of levels, as I’m pretty sure they don’t state on the packaging anywhere that they’re only for girls. Ah, I’ve got it now, it’s because it’s dressed in pink, that’s it. Well I’ve got pink socks on today and I’m sure I didn’t pick my wife’s up by mistake. If the doll was dressed in blue would that be ok? I’m guessing not, nope, this still wouldn’t wash with many of the blinkered folk out there. I obviously have no proof, but I’m going to hazard a guess that the worry of many of these men is that such toys might be the very early steps to being gay. If that is the case, such narrow-minded thinking is hugely damaging and simply homophobic. There’s no place for such prejudiced mind-sets in my family and there shouldn’t be in society either.
Toys seem to be a touchy subject for many overly macho dads out there. A while ago we had guests whose son was told off for playing with my daughter’s Barbie because “they’re for girls” – ridiculous! And, recently I was walking through a toy shop where I overheard a dad ridiculing his son with a comment along the lines of “why don’t you ask Santa for a My Little Pony to go with the gay toys you have”. I mean, come on! That is incredibly damaging for a child.
I want my son to be able make his own choices. Whether that be which garishly pink doll he hugs, which overly muscular ninja figurine he smashes around the house or who he chooses to love when he’s older. I’m pretty sure feeding some dust to a doll when he’s aged one isn’t going to have any bearing on his sexual preference in years to come. But if it does, who cares, I certainly don’t. He’s a very happy little boy, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.