Girly Toys

Five years old and not a science kit in sight.

I've been thinking a lot about Peggy Orenstein's excellent New York Times Magazine piece last Sunday on the princess craze among little girls and the extreme gender differential in toy giving. What's surprises me is that this seemingly outdated phenomenon exists even in educated, progressive Seattle. For me, the breaking point came when my oldest daughter turned five. At her birthday party, she received a furry pink toy phone, along with the usual assorted dolls, art supplies and craft projects given to girls. On its own, that might not have bothered me. I think girls should feel free to indulge their girly side; heck, I'm even more or less okay with Barbies. What got to me is that I suddenly realized that the son of close friends, who is about the same age as my daughter, had by his fifth birthday received countless science kits, reference books and other gifts that reinforced how smart he was. That holiday season, I marched out and bought my daughter a science kit. She loved it. Now her sister is five--and a total whiz with science kits. The other day, she proudly brought one to preschool and assembled an electric circuit on her own.

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