You didn’t notice me next to you in the bookstore today. And I didn’t notice you. I was busy browsing the young adult books, while my daughters were staring at the American Girl Doll sweepstakes display, imagining what it would be like to win. Maybe you didn’t see my girls. But they definitely saw you. And they saw your son. And they saw you telling your son, “stop looking at that. That’s for girls.”
Then you pulled him away.
He was about three-years-old, by my girls’ judgement. That wonderful age where he is still unencumbered by gender roles and societal expectations. His mind is beautifully spongey. He saw a doll and thought she was pretty. Or interesting. Or funny. I couldn’t say.
Maybe he wonders what her hair feels like, or how she would look in a different dress or kicking a soccer ball or sitting in a stroller. Maybe he thinks it would be fun to play a pretend game with her or serve her tea or stick a cape on her and make her fly through the air and knock over towers of blocks. Maybe he wants to put a stethoscope on and check her heartbeat. Maybe he wants to tuck her in at night. Maybe she looks like a friend in his preschool. Maybe she just looks nice.
Or maybe he wonders what it’s like to hold a child in his arms and take care of her, the way you take care of him.
“Isn’t that weird?” my daughters asked me. “It makes no sense. Anyone can play with a doll!” So I asked them why they thought you might have said it.
They had absolutely no idea at all.
To me, that was the most interesting part of the whole situation.