We travelled a lot for Christmas. There were no flight delays or cancellations for us, only driving to NJ three times, NYC, CT, and PA (to Tallu's great-grandfather's house). The good news is that almost everywhere she went she opened presents. Toys, clothes, toys, clothes... blah blah blah, but one toy was very controversial on my Facebook page.
"Controversy? On your Facebook page? Shut the fuck up!" you say. Okay, controversy may be a bit dramatic, but I wasn't expecting much discussion about it. What was my status? "Tallulah's kitchen is pretty bitchin'." Dood, the kitchen is freakin' sweet, I must say! There's a special burner that "cooks" food in the skillet or "boils" water in the coffee pot. Did your toy kitchen do that? (I didn't even HAVE a toy kitchen, so this thing already kicks ass in my book!)
People were tentatively happy for her, so long as paradigm's wouldn't be affirmed and she'll be using power tools in her kitchen. Frankly, I was disappointed that people weren't as excited about this toy as my husband and I were. "It's a fucking toy for a toddler! Can't a toy be a toy?" I asked my husband. In defense of my friends, I admit I understand the hesitation about such a toy. Here's the little girl, not even two years old, learning that women work in the kitchen. Yay, reinforcing gender roles!
Tallu's parents work in the kitchen. Tallu is in there, too, no matter which parent is working that room. She's exploring the cabinets under the microwave hutch, bringing toys and sitting in the middle of the floor, trying to look at what's on the stove. You know, being a child. Sure, this plastic representation of a kitchen can be seen as a tool for the patriarchy to engender my little girl to her lot in life. OR, this imaginary kitchen can be the lab where my daughter can learn about sharing (making food and sharing it with her toys or playmates), hygiene (washing hands, dirty dishes), and fantasy (because in reality, the sizzle in the skillet is electronic noise and lightbulbs flashing). Plus, it'll keep her out of the real kitchen, where she is now tall enough to reach for things on the stovetop, which is extremely dangerous.
Here's my promise to all of you: my child will have fun playing with her kitchen, and all her friends, boys and girls, will have fun playing with it, too. Tallu will never grow to think that her place is in the kitchen. Still, she will grow up knowing the kitchen is a fun place to be. That's a lesson my father taught me, and I'm happy to pass that on to his granddaughter.
(This is Tallu in her "Seuss suit" - Cat in the Hat pajamas - and her infant cousin's clip-on neck tie from a suit he received for Christmas.)