Of course, after I’ve already done a majority of the Christmas shopping, Beekee finally comes out and tells me what he’d really like for Christmas. He wants a doll. All the dolls we have are “too girly”. I can understand that. We’ve got three American Girl dolls in the house. Then there’s Corde’s Baby Heather. He’s got a little Waldorf doll I made him and a baby doll, but he wants something bigger. I’ll be honest, I never quite got the hang of making Waldorf dolls. I tried. I gave it an honest effort, but it’s really not my thing. I may be a great knitter. I can do a little crochet. I’d even bet I’d be pretty good at making quilts, but doll making is not my specialty. It’s something I wish I could do better, but I’ve got to be honest about my own limitations.
As such, I’ve decided it’s time to look into dolls for my boys. I know if Beekee has his own, Sander’s going to want one too. It’s just a reality that I have to admit. It’s not that I have problems with getting dolls for my boys. I just have a problem with the cost of doing so. Dolls for boys aren’t easy to come by. There’s limited selections. Most of all, they’re often not cheap.
When I first started looking at dolls for boys I found Waldorf dolls. They’re beautiful and there are so many people who have made beautiful outfits for them. I thought this would be my perfect solution for the problem of dolls for boys. Unfortunately I didn’t take cost into consideration. When you’re looking at spending often $150 on a single doll that really limits how much you can spend. Sure, they’re wonderful, hand-crafted dolls made of all natural materials, but that’s a steep price to pay. In case you haven’t figured this out yet, I don’t exactly have that kind of money to spend on a toy unless it’s going to be the best toy of all time. My kids will have to get their money’s worth in play time in order for me to consider that. Even then, that’s more than my entire Christmas budget this year, not including what I can pick up on food stamps. I can’t spend that on one child and then expect to have nothing left over to spend on anyone else. It’s just not fair.
After that I’d considered making them myself, but we all know how that went. Don’t get me wrong, the dolls I made are cute. They just don’t meet the level of quality that the professionally made dolls have. I might consider trying my hand at it again some day, but not soon, and certainly not before Christmas. I know my kids. If I want to meet the need, I’ve got to do it now while they’re still interested. Otherwise Beekee might get over his want for a doll and forget about it. Then he’ll want it again at some other suitably inconvenient time when I don’t have the money to buy him one or the time to make him one. I’d rather get him a doll now and make him another one at some later point. I’ll probably make dolls for all of my kids. I’m just going to have to take some serious time to work on it and I don’t want the interest to disappear before I’m even done. That’s what happened with Corde’s doll.
Then my next thought was to find a boy doll somewhere else. Well, the Pleasant Company (that makes the American Girl Dolls) has the Bitty Twins, and you can have both of those be boys, but it’s a steep investment to get a couple of boy dolls. It would give me one for each Sander and Beekee, which I think they’d both like, but I would have to spend a small fortune to do it. True, I’d get two dolls for about the same price as one Waldorf doll, but that’s still a little steep for me. Amazon is full of Ken dolls, and even then it’s a pathetic selection. There aren’t as many boy dolls out there as I would have liked.
I understand it’s not traditional for boys to play with dolls, but I have to wonder if it’s really natural for boys to play with dolls just like girls. After all, most doll play is simply practice for being an adult, a part of a family. Boys model that kind of mimicking too. It makes me wonder if perhaps boys lack of interest in dolls comes from some other place. For example, maybe a boy doesn’t want to play with a doll because he doesn’t think it’s okay. Maybe all the pink turns him off. Maybe he wants a boy doll, like him, but the options for clothing and everything else are so limited that boys quickly lose interest. Where’s their steamer trunk full of clothes? It could also be that fathers don’t tend to model good parenting behaviors that can be easily mimicked in play. Dads go to work and pay the bills. Moms sit at home, cook, clean, and take care of the baby. Where’s the encouragement for a boy to take on that role?
At the same time I think playing with dolls is vital to a boy’s ability to become a well adjusted adult. How else can he learn to be a dad without actually practicing it at home? It’s a chance for him to remember and copy what he sees in the world, a chance to practice. Instead boys are encouraged to do nothing more than play with tools and crash cars. Boys are encouraged to be violent. They’re not exactly given many chances to show that gentle, nurturing nature the way a girl does.
It’s frustrating that boys seem so trapped into this stupid gender role. I have a boy that likes wearing pink, would probably wear dresses if I let him, and likes playing with dolls. He’s frustrated because there aren’t more options for him. He really wants a doll that’s got a little bit of variety just like his sister does, but it’s just not an option. Well, I guess there are some options out there, but one of the options I found would have given me nightmares. It’s 18″ dolls for boys, but their expressions are just creepy. I think I’d have nightmares if one of those dolls were in my house. Instead I think my boys would prefer soft toys, similar to a Waldorf doll.
Thankfully Haba has a line of wonderful boy dolls. They don’t have any clothing or accessories, but it’s something. They also have a baby doll I’m going to have to get for Luca Bear when he’s a little bit older. The doll is fittingly Luca. Supposedly the doll is a girl, but it looks pretty gender-neutral. They sell clothes for the doll (it’s mostly girly stuff in the pack, but not all of it), a playpen style crib, a carry cot, baby carrier, and table seat. Since Luca is my littlest and the only one I think will spend any real time in the doll phase it would be worth it to invest like that. If we get his doll while he’s still a baby he’ll have the most time to bond with it and actually have some interest in it. My older two haven’t had that same advantage.
All of this has gotten me thinking about how hard things must be for Beekee. He’s a different sort of boy. He likes the colors pink and purple. He has no problems with wearing a dress and likes to on occasion. He likes wearing his sister’s nightgown and his dad’s hockey jersey to bed because it’s like wearing a dress to sleep. He’s always been on the more sensitive, nurturing side, but over the past few years that’s been changing. He’s been more about violence and killing things. He’s started to become more of a “typical” boy, but I think that’s probably because he’s surrounded by so many boys that don’t get it.
I’m not sure how we’re going t pull it off, but I’m determined to preserve just a little bit of that soft and gentle side. If that means I have to find a way to get him a doll for Christmas, that’s what I’m going t have to do. I’m really hoping that his dad comes through with getting a doll, but if not I may just have to come up with getting everyone else an additional gift. I’m not quite sure how that will work, but we’ll figure it out. We always do.