Mermaids and Princesses for the Birthday Boy

We walked the entire toy store three times, my middle son and I. He held my hand as he carefully perused each aisle. “That’s for babies.” He said, shaking his head as he passed walkers and exersaucers. “That’s too scary!” He shuddered, shrinking away from a wall of action villain toys and play weapons. “I like that.” He gasped, walking closer until his nose nearly met the clear plastic front of the princess doll’s packaging. His glacier blue eyes grew wide, his thick black eyelashes unmoving as he soaked in the beauty before him. “I want that!” He said, his mouth remaining slack-jawed.

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Birthday loot

We had slowly strolled the action figures, the trains, the drawing utensils, the wooden toys, the dollhouses, the bikes, the bedding, the building blocks, the sand toys. Nothing sparked interest. Not until we hit the brightly lit, pink-and-purple hued aisles of the doll and princess section. My boy was home!

And so my son spent the next 30 minutes meticulously selecting precisely which toys he wanted to request for his birthday. “You won’t get everything,” I reminded him as I typed the items into the memo section of my phone, “and we won’t buy them today. But that will make your birthday even more exciting. You’ll wonder which toys you will actually receive.” He nodded knowingly and tapped the toddler princess box in front of him, “Don’t forget this!” He reminded me. “Toddler Ariel doll with hairdryer” I typed into my phone. “Don’t worry,” I said, “I didn’t forget her.”

He smiled.

Guys and Dolls

My nearly-3-year-old son loves princesses, dress-ups, and Barbies. Partially it’s because it’s what he is exposed to as “cool” since he has a big sister who loves these items. Partially it’s because, well, those interests simply appeal his preschooler self.

Considering he’s highly active, impressionable, and accident-prone, I’m grateful he hasn’t inundated himself in more violent interests. Instead of play-fighting or play-shooting, he’s diligently grooming dolls, practicing self-care through dressing himself in layers of costumes, and admiring females. I see nothing wrong with this in the least.

His present interests don’t make him lesser, don’t diminish his masculinity, don’t define his gender or sexual identity, and don’t endanger anyone at all… except for maybe those who feel personally threatened by a tulle-wearing blue-eyed boy holding a singing Ariel doll.