Last night I met up with a friend to discuss whether there is another way to view the US humanitarian intervention in Haiti other than as part of a dastardly plan to militarily dominate the Caribbean region. As you do. This is in anticipation of a talk I am helping to give tonight for No Sweat.
We talked about lighter topics as well, such as child-rearing. I haven't reared any children (although I do feel recently like I have been delivered of a cuckoo, but that's another story) so my friend, who has two young daughters, talked most.
I quizzed him on the role of nature versus nurture in forming children's gender (how girly or boyish they are), whether he had tried to avoid pushing his girls into being girly. He rolled his eyes and said that at a certain point he just gave up and let the social pressures roll over his family.
We agreed that rampant consumerism does not help in this. When I were a girl we simply didn't have all that much stuff. If I got a doll as a present and a pink garment, it wasn't all that often, perhaps on my birthday, and then I had another 364 days to get over it. There was space for other things besides glitter and princesses and princesses' glittery ponies, etc.
Nowadays, girls' toys and clothes are possibly no girlier and boys' stuff possibly no less boyish, there's just a lot more of them. My friend agreed; he and his other half spend quite a lot of time simply sifting through stuff, much of it crap (and most of it made in sweatshops), that people have given their children. He said, for example, that many kids invite the whole class to their birthday parties, so the child whose birthday it is gets 30 presents. As well as that, all the children who attend the party get a goody bag full of more crap.
I probably would have made a very weird parent and it's as well I'm not one. When I were a girl I had a couple of board games, and a multi-species family of soft toys to play with. And that were all, I tell 'e.
Oh, apart from Sindy. But my Sindy made do with a bath and two outfits - which is all any girl needs in order to get on.