by Josh Rogers
The fire truck backed up, and West Side parents scrambled with their little boys to where they hoped the line would start to get on board. Almost immediately, there were over 100 people waiting
Were there any girls at the West Side YMCA’s Touch-a-Truck event a few weeks ago? Certainly, but as my 2-year-old son and I stood on lines to board the big vehicles, I noticed only a few girls waiting with us; most went to the activities that aren’t stereotypically male.
It seems we haven’t come a long way with our babies.
Boys and girls, certainly with exceptions, do, in fact, tend to play differently with different toys. Apparently, the research backs this up across different cultures, although we’re a long way from settling the nature vs. nurture debate on how much male and female behavior is taught.
Lego took some flack this year for its new line marketed to girls. A change.org petition collected nearly 60,000 signatures protesting things like the pieces’ pink colors and a new emphasis on people over buildings. Girls have been playing with Lego for a long time, but they apparently appreciate the new line, judging from reviews of the toys posted on Amazon.com.
“I was delighted that Lego finally came out with something a little girl could get excited about,” was a typical comment from a mother who had played with Lego and bought the new set for her daughter.
I’m sure I wasn’t the spark for my son’s love of trucks. When it comes to wheels, I know a lot more about strollers—even though I may never buy another one, I still check out the new models and colors. I could tell you the type of stroller used by a dozen or so neighborhood children, but I hardly remember the cars my friends or relatives drive.
I now know the difference between a front-end and backhoe loader, and have learned more about trucks in the last year than I ever knew before.
So Isaac’s fascination with big wheels started somewhere else. That’s not to say that dad, mom and others haven’t played a role. Had he been drawn to dresses, dolls and long-haired wigs, I don’t think I would have done anything he’d have to someday tell a therapist, but I’m sure I would not have been as enthusiastic and encouraging as I am about the trucks.
Last weekend, at a small family reunion, my father-in-law, a devoted grandfather, used much more gas than necessary to drive his pickup there for my son and his cousins. All four preschoolers had fun playing in the back of the truck, but the two boys stayed in longer.
On our seven-hour drive back, no easy thing for a toddler, we had the perfect scenery on the last leg. The New Jersey Turnpike’s construction work provided enough excavators, cranes and backhoe loaders to prevent a meltdown.
Josh Rogers, contributing editor at Manhattan Media, is a lifelong New Yorker.
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