12/10/2012 07:21 pm ET Updated Feb 09, 2013

Dadmissions: Girls and Boys and Toys


My girls have never liked Legos. I loved Legos as a kid and my girls hate them. Legos now come in Star Wars and Sponge Bob and Heroes and Dinosaurs... oh, and sugar and spice and everything nice. Whaat? Yes, the classic building blocks which have tripped up parents and brought them to their knees in pain for decades are now going girlie. My girls never liked Legos until they recently saw "Lego Friends." Picture the Disney princesses made out of Legos and without the copyright infringement. These are the Lego Friends: Emma, Olivia, Stephanie, Mia and Andrea. They live in Heartlake City because Decepticon Swamp probably doesn't sound girlie enough. They come in a pink and purple box instead of rad red or wild orange. They are interested in pets and fashion and the beach, not cars and guns and robots. And NOW my kids are interested in Legos. Yep. Right up their alley. It got me thinking about boys and girls and toys for boys and girls. Why did a company have to make a box that was pink and purple with flowers and girls to get my little girls to think it might be a good toy? I don't know.

When I go to McDonald's with the kids (yes, we go sometimes) I need to ask the Happy Meal people for a girl toy. If the girls get a boy toy, they get mad. Really. So I get it. For whatever reason, they identify with certain toys more than others. But why? Was it always like this? Classic Radio Flyer wagons came in red. Wood toys just used to be natural wood color. When did everything become rainbows and princesses and girls or battle scenes and warriors and boys? Or did we as a society do this ourselves...

In Sweden this year, the Toys"R"Us catalog intentionally tried to blur the gender lines. The Christmas catalog shows girls with Nerf guns and boys with dolls and both girls and boys playing in kitchens. They changed the catalog other countries got. A spokesperson for the company that made the catalogs was quoted as saying, "With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It's not a boy or a girl thing, it's a toy for children." Maybe the Swedes are on to something.

I can tell you when I was a little kid, I had a doll named Joey. Yep, I had a boy doll named Joey. I still have that doll somewhere. Joey was a cool guy despite his pinstriped sweater shirt. Somewhere along the line, though, I stuffed Joey in the closet because it wasn't cool to have him anymore. And just because I had Joey didn't mean I was girlie. I still liked trucks and cars and dinosaurs. And damn, I still regret getting rid of all my Star Wars action figures. I loved those things. Even Princess Leia.

I guess I'm just hoping we don't need pink and purple Lincoln Logs, or Tonka Trucks or Matchbox cars... or do we? Toys can be toys and girls and boys can still be girls and boys... can't they?

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