Monday, September 20, 2010

The Toy Kitchen Manifesto

You Tawkin'na Me?
So we got Jack a kitchen.  You know, like a toy kitchen.  With a fridge, a grill, coffeemaker, everything.  I've mentioned it before.  It's awesome and he loves it.  So does every little kid that has set foot in the house, boy or girl.

The kitchen's a hit.  But once in a while, if we happen to mention it, we'll get a little flak.  It's almost imperceptible, but it's flak.  "A kitchen, huh?"  As if a toy kitchen is an inappropriate toy for a little boy to have.

To some, I guess a kitchen isn't "manly" enough for a 2 year old.  I mean, Jack's entire world is full of manly, grown up things, to be sure.  Things like diapers, teddy bears, pre-cut meat, and sippy cups.  Heaven forbid that Jack do something (gasp!) infantile or non-manly, maybe even (double gasp!) involving cooking*.  Er, sorry, pretend cooking.  'Cause you know, that sort of thing might make him a big sissy.  Uh huh.  Like this mammoth, lumbering toddler that relentlessly tractorbeams everything in a skirt is in legitimate danger of that.

Well, phooey on all of it.  Phooey.  It's like I've been transported back in time a hundred years, here.  Take off that smoking jacket, put down your calabash and listen to me.

A two year old is a baby.  (A resourceful, calculating, manipulative, cunning baby, but a baby nonetheless.)  But that fact aside, I'd rather spend my time teaching my little boy to be a man, rather than teaching him how not to be effeminate.  There's a big, big difference, hombres.

Will I buy Jack the next Miss America Barbie?  Probably not, you're right.  But that's a far cry from rushing into the church nursery or preschool and intervening before he (triple gasp!) picks up a dolly.  There are bigger BEESH [fish] to fry.

What I'm really wondering is, what exactly are we worried about, here, boys?

Even women participate in accommodating male paranoia.  I can't number the times when a woman has called Jack "pretty" or some equivalently frilly word.  No problem.  Doesn't bother me one whit.  Catching herself, she'll then blurt in my direction, "Oh I'm sorry, I mean handsome."  Like I need to be patronized.  Like my fears need to be assuaged.  What in the Wide World of Sports have I got to worry about?

Don't misunderstand.  I don't deny the serial emasculation of the modern male.  For men of any age, it's rampant, destructive, and a real problem.  There's much to be said in defense of boys truly being boys, and not in a pejorative sense.  But all this shallow macho posturing doesn't solve that problem.  And it's lousy PR for our gender.

If anybody needs us, Jack and I will be in the kitchen.

*a.k.a. "women's work" to folks born when McKinley was in office.

And Now For Something Completely Different
Found this interesting article today.


Jessica said...

Amen! I remember that the play kitchen in Mrs. Love's room was always one of the most popular when we got to choose free time activities.

Gentry said...

Before we got our first play kitchen, I must admit I was a little bit on the "are you kidding me" bus when the woman that lets me live in the house with her and the kiddos first mentioned it. I finally put some reasonable thought behind it and set forth some general specifications that were to be followed in the picking of said kitchen. No girly looking aprons and no pink... also preferrably an "outdoorsy" play kitchen - mossy oak camo would have been just fine. What I came home to one day did meet 2 of the 3 qualifications. apparently mossy oak marketing folks have not yet taken on play kitchens. I will admit that it does have a bit of purple, and has no grill, but I am okay with it. In fact I am MORE than okay with it for I have been served up some of the FINEST donuts, pizzas, and chicken nuggets that two boys can cook up.

BB Tucker said...

Good grief. People LUUUUUVVVV to stick their noses where they clearly don't belong. Ah-hum. Myself excluded ;)
Donna and Marc have a play kitchen set and both boys along with the girl enjoy it totally. I love when they prepare a "feast" and serve me on the kiddie table. By the way, all the best chefs in the land are men. And Emeril, I do believe, could kick nosey's patooty.
Since Donna's kids love their play kitchen set so much, I made one to keep here at our house! I got one of those three-drawer plastic storage bins that Wal-Mart sells, painted red cooking eyes in two sizes on the top and knobs on the front. The top drawer is cooking utensils (pots and pans). I put two stick-on hooks on the sides for dish towels and oven mitts. The middle drawer is dinnerware (cups, plates, bowls), and the bottom drawer is play food. It's small and self-contained...so I can roll it out when they're here, and roll it right back in the closet when they're not.
I'm so glad real men cook. When we got married, I didn't...and Don guided me along. I'd get into the story of steaming cabbage that turned out to be lettuce, but that's for another day :)
Jack is fortunate to have reasonable and brilliant parents! Stick to your guns, or buns as the case may be!

El Comodoro said...

I'm loving these comments. Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Standing ovations, high fives and fist bumps from Port of Mobile!!

Jennifer said...

Don't worry at all. My 4 year old son asked for a kitchen for Christmas a few years ago. I was horrified but then realized it wasn't such a big deal. Be glad your son is still only 2!

Donna said...

I got no beef with the boy having a toy kitchen...so long as he stores his guns in it. :) J/K Of course boys and girls will play with all types of toys. Just b/c J can close one eye and give M cover with her rifle, and M can set a perfect tea party doesn't mean there's trouble brewing.

Roxanne said...

Loved your post. My boy also played with a kitchen. . .AND a playhouse that was, indeed, pastel. . .because we'd bought them for his sister. . .he would cook Legos and iron socks, and put Transformers in the fridge. And SOMETIMES he'd even make food.

I am glad to report that at the age of 9,he is a boy's boy. . .and also a Momma's boy. . .and also hilarious and thoughtful and creative and a down right hot mess some days. . .and that means he will make one GREAT husband someday.

El Comodoro said...

Roxanne. Thanks, dude. (May I call you dude?)

I dig your blog, too.