“When Mia wrapped the ‘baby’ in a blanket for her C was just ecstatic. She rocked it and rocked it. She played with that doll for almost an hour!”
When K said this to me, this afternoon as I picked up C from daycare, I wasn’t surprised in the least. C is an enthusiastic little mama. She cuddles them and feeds them. She pats them on the back to make them ‘burp’. She puts their hats on and crams shoes on their feet. She sits them in her toy stroller and parades them around everywhere.
I am determined to not encourage a gender bias, but so far my efforts have been futile. C has as many cars as she has dolls. We have blocks and balls galore. She wears pants and sneakers. It’s all to no avail. Babies are what she wants. When she wakes up from a nap she asks for her baby and if she spots a doll she drops everything else. And her obsession doesn’t stop at plastic babies! If no doll is at hand she will lavish affection on a stuffed toy, or the cat if he’s around (and willing…). Really anything within reach will do; she’s cradled our legs, a plastic dolphin from the tub, and yes, even her toy cars.
Flesh and blood babies are a special treat for her. When she sees one she tends to freeze and stare, mesmerized by this real live doll. When she can she likes to rock babies in their car seats, but if she’s told not to it seems that merely gazing on their sweet faces satisfies her. After long quiet observations she’ll turn to me and say “Baby” as if I hadn’t noticed.
At the end of our conversation K said to me “Girls and boys play differently. It’s not something you teach, and it’s not something they learn. I’ve seen it happen again and again. Girls will be girls.” She’s been a daycare provider for 18 years. I’m leaning towards believing her.