Yawp's Yip Yaps


San Francisco, California, USA
October 18
Teacher, writer, photographer, baby mama, mix CD maker--not necessarily in that order.


FEBRUARY 15, 2011 10:27PM

Toys Schmoys: A Tampon in a Bottle, then Baby Doll

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I've seen it before: a toddler at her own birthday party, unwrapping presents. The adults are focused on what's inside the package (or on their watches, because presents means it's almost time to go). The toddler, however, is focused on the ribbon, the paper, the box, and anything else that is not the present itself.

Baby expert sites will tell you that this is because toddlers love to play with things that adults use. They want to make meaningful play with things that look like what we use for "real" things. I loved watching Baby find things and make up elaborate games around the object. More recently, though, a girly-girl element is emerging in that she walks around with dolls saying, "Baby," or, "Baba" or some variation. Up until yesterday, she had one, plain-Jane bald-headed baby in pajamas that look like they would catch fire disturbingly easily. She also has a second string stuffed baby that receives a tepid response. On Valentine's Day our very sweet neighbors left a present for Baby. She ripped it open immediately (because I put it down for a second, and, since her birthday, all wrapped boxes are for her) and when she saw the painted face, the pink dress, the plastic tiara...my ears bled with "Baby! Baby! Baby!"

This make-upped princess baby-thing was attached to the packaging by plastic widgets that I would have felt comfortable using to secure me to the bottom of a jet at 30,000 feet. As I struggled, my Baby declared, "Baby!" repeatedly and pulled at my pant legs. It felt a little like trying to get a key into a lock as the killer lopes methodically ever closer. Finally, I freed the baby-thing, and my daughter clutched her with such joy that I wasn't sure quite how to feel.

Just about a month before this, Baby had created toys out of anything. Exhibit A:
A tampon in a water bottle. She found the tampon in Mama's purse and proceeded to insert (pardon me) it into the bottle and then take it out repeatedly. It seemed to be a delightful diversion. Though thoroughly weird, the toy and game showed her resourcefulness. Countless other objects were absorbing toys before baby dolls: measuring cups, spoons, bracelets, make-up brushes, canning jar tops, etc. It felt like Depression-Era ingenuity--my Grandmother would have been thrilled.

Even post baby dolls, she still plays with "real" things, so I think my trepidation stems from her developmentally appropriate fixation on certain toys: her baby dolls and her stuffed cat, in particular. She calls out for them. She squeezes them. She loves them. There's something so cliche (see developmentally appropriate) about it all. Yeah, yeah, a little girl with a baby doll. But a tampon in a bottle? You don't see that creativity every day!

Ultimately, I want my daughter to be who she is, but I am finding that I do hope she has that little spark of crafty, creative, inventive, jimmy-rigging, MacGyvering intelligence that will help her in so many ways. Nurturing instincts will probably come in handy as well. I think I want a counterbalance to all of that pink frilly stereotype that her baby doll potentially embodies. Like every mom, I want her to have it all--a princess baby-thin, and a contained feminine hygiene product.

Bottom line--the tampon in the bottle days are not entirely gone, but the princess baby-thing days are encroaching on their turf and I smell Barbie's cheap perfume coming down the pike. That's fine, I guess. I just hope that fashioning a eco-friendly engine out of found scrap metal is also in her future.

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