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.
Found this interesting article today.