Back in August, we were back to school shopping. The Daughter was beginning pre-k and she needed a new lunch box. As we looked at the options, the Husband pointed out the My Little Pony lunchbox, the Doc McStuffins lunchbox, and the Hello Kitty lunchbox. Each one was met with a very excited “Yay!”
That is until she turned her head slightly to the right.
She saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lunchbox.
She saw it and that was all she wanted. I figured, what the hell.
The Husband, however, was a little nervous. He kept asking if she was sure she wanted that one and didn’t want the Ponies or the Doc lunch box. She kept answering him with a very confident, nope. I told him it was just a lunch box and if she liked it, she liked it. He watches the cartoon with her every weekend. I just laugh because I remember as a kid watching it with my brothers back in the 80s when it first came out.
The Husband said he was worried one of the boys might mistake it for their lunch box. I told him I would fix that. When we got home, I asked her who her favorite Turtle was and she told me that it was Donnie (that was just that day) so I went to my sewing box and found some purple embroidery thread and then sewed her name into the side of the lunch box, which was no easy feat considering I didn’t want to puncture the lining.
The first day of school, the Daughter walked in proud as a peacock with her new Turtles lunch box and was a hit with not only the boys but some of the girls too.
I tell this story, because today, I read an article on a “mommy site” that talked about a girl who was almost in tears when she saw two books titled “How to Survive (Almost) Anything.” It wasn’t the book itself that made her feel the need to cry, but rather the fact that there was one for girls and one for boys.
The one for boys, as the article continued on, contained things like “How to Survive a Canoe Trip.” The one for girls had things like “How to Survive a Slumber Party.” The stark difference in the books made the little girl feel sad, to put it mildly.
As I read, I couldn’t help but think about the lunch box. It was funny how something that was deemed a “boy” toy would make the Husband feel uncomfortable, for lack of a better word. Having grown up with three brothers, I thought nothing of it. I played with He-Man and Ninja Turtles as well as My Little Pony and Barbie.
Going back to the article, I read the comments with the article and found that I agreed with the comments that said they would have bought both books and allowed the daughter to read both. I would have done the same.
I think that while the publisher was wrong for publishing those books because let’s face it, they are pretty damn sexist, it’s up to the parent to then take that negative and turn it around. First, I probably wouldn’t buy the books because I would have been ticked off that they were so drastically different and I wouldn’t have wanted to pay them and let them think that I was ok with these books as presented. Second, if the Daughter happened to come across them in the library or something like that, I would use that opportunity to point out how yes, learning to survive a sleepover may be something she might want to learn, learning how to survive a camping trip might be just as important (and probably more fun).
I do this all the time with the daughter because I want her to know that, to quote Annie Get Your Gun, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” Well maybe not better, but at least as good as…but let’s be honest, hopefully better.