this morning i burned my granola while thinking about barbie.
barbies are typically way down on my list of “things to think about,” but on monday while out running errands i listened to the diane rehm show. the show was about the barbie doll’s 50th birthday. there was a little bit of everything that hour – praising barbie, condemning barbie, crazy stories about barbie, the quite creepy history of barbie‘s creation. but the thing that keeps coming back to me is how the guests and callers brought up stories about girls destroying their barbies. someone gave a statistic that over 60% of girls destroy/mutilate their barbies. but the strangest part was how everyone on the show just kind of giggled or laughed it off saying kids just destroy toys – it’s natural. all of this was followed by lots of speculation about barbie’s impact on a young girl’s psyche and sense of self.
the idea that a crazy proportioned doll can lead a girl to have low self-esteem and acquire an eating disorder is taken seriously and brought on impassioned discussion, but the knowledge that kids rip barbie apart brings laughter.
i wish i could go back to monday and call in to the show. i’d want to ask the panelists what their thoughts are on parents (and other adults in a child’s life) directing and teaching children how to play. i’d probably get dead air or some talk about how we need to let kids’ minds and imaginations be free. if i were to see my little girl destroying her barbie (whether or not i’d give her one is a whole other discussion!), i would make her stop. but then, even more importantly i think, i’d show her how to play with it. and in the midst of showing her how to dress, care for, make-believe numerous stories with her, i would teach her how to respect a toy that was given to her. is watching a little girl rip barbie‘s head off at all beneficial to her, her imagination, or the person who gave it to her?
this all made me think about my boys and their toys and imaginations and how they play with toys. and it made me think about how i teach or don’t teach them to interact with their toys. then i realized that i love elisha’s imagination, but his imagination grows with the growth of his knowledge about everything around him. i remember the first few times i did puzzles with elisha. at first he just wanted to throw the pieces around. and yes, there were smiles just doing that. but as i taught him what the pieces did his smiles got bigger and he became engaged with the game. and then he realized he could do things with the puzzle pieces – stack them, carry them in a bucket, use his imagination and make his toy bulldozer pick up the pieces while making all the appropriate construction site sounds. i guess i could have just let him throw the puzzle pieces and not bothered to show him what to do with them until he was older but i think i would’ve been short-changing him.
i want to be intentional with my boys – intentional when picking their toys and intentional when showing them how to care for and even play with their new toy.
i just thought it was interesting how other than purchasing the barbie, the parents/adults were absent from the discussion when the talk came to actually playing with the barbie, especially when they mentioned several times that barbies are now purchased for those mainly in the 3-6 age range, a still very young child who could perhaps benefit from being shown/modeled/directed as to how to play with a doll.
so there. and i could serve up some granola and yogurt to go with this discussion but who knew barbie could thwart granola baking? to be perfectly honest, i think i was mad enough when i pulled the sheets out of the oven that if i had a barbie nearby she’d be headless right now.