Over the weekend, we went to the Greenhills Shopping Center in an attempt to fix my broken iPad. While Mikey took care of the tech stuff, Max and I explored the shopping stalls in the bazaar area.
Max has been such a great trooper lately. We’re so amazed at how far he’s come from the last few months since we’ve weaned. Nap time isn’t a struggle anymore, he’s sitting in his car seat without any trouble (I can finally sit in front with Mikey again!), and he’s slowly learning to regulate his emotions with the help of words.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a willful (and many times a disobedient) toddler, but he’s trying so hard. We’ve also been “working” long hours lately and I can see it take a toll on him. So, to pep up the trip to Greenhills, I told him that he could choose one toy from the bazaar. He was so excited!
We walked around for a bit before we found stalls selling toys. When we finally found one, Max zeroed in on a Frozen themed toy gun. He pulled the trigger and the gun began signing the first two lines of the Let It Go chorus. Over and over again.
I started panicking internally. I didn’t want Max to have access to Elsa singing two lines of Let It Go on demand. I was also pretty sure that Mikey would hate it. So I tried diverting his attention to the other toys. He would look, but he’d keep coming back to the Frozen gun. It didn’t seem like he wanted anything else.
Desperate, I said: “But Max, that’s only for girls.”
I regretted it the moment I said it.
We make every effort to ensure that we don’t develop any gender stereotypes in our home, and certainly not in any toy stores. We know that social biases are already a strong enough influence, and this is why we try to offset this with our own influence on Max. So when I said it, shame washed all over me as my toddler looked at me in confusion.
I try to backtrack and I tell him that he can totally have it if he wants it. While I was trying to get the foot out of my mouth, the sales lady offers Max a similar gun, but this one was Captain America themed.
Max loves the MCU, so he was pretty happy with it. Instead of Let It Go, it made random laser noises when you pulled the trigger. We bought that toy instead.
Max seems really happy with his Capten ‘Merica shooter, but he still talks about the Frozen one. Max likes re-telling stories. So, more than once he’s said: “Maxie play with Frozen shooter, sing Let It Go. Maxie boy, buy Capten ‘Merica.”
I’ve apologized and I told him that I was wrong. I tried explaining that both boys and girls can play with both Capitan America or Frozen.
Unfortunately, the memory of picking out the toy is stronger than my postmortem dialoguing. So, he remembers it more.
My words matter, now more than ever. I’ll try to do better next time.