Louis and Freddie - One boy and his doll

My little boy Louis is 3 and he adores his big sister, Una, who is 6.  We recently had a little incident when Louis took Una's pink purse and one of her favourite toys, "Peanut the little monkey", out on one of our daily dog walks by the lakes.  The pink purse with Peanut inside it was lost for 48 hours.  While disaster was averted (I spotted the purse in the long grass 2 walks later; with no help from the dogs I might add!) my son and I have not told his sister about Peanut's adventure, and Louis clearly understands that this is how it should remain.

Louis loves his sister's toys, particularly her favourite doll, Kiki.  Kiki is made from a Clothkit doll kit designed by the fabulous Jane Foster, and sewn together by yours truly.  Since this incident I no longer have to argue/explain to Louis that he cannot take Kiki out of the house with us as she is far too important to his sister.  I simply say; "Remember what happened to Peanut..."  

So, Louis switched his tactics.  Now he wanted a doll of his own.  I got back in touch with the wonderful gang at Clothkit and Freddie has joined the family.

Louis is very pleased with his new toy.  He takes Freddie to bed, where he joins little white bear, POP the rabbit and little dinosaur every night.  There is never any argument about taking Freddie out of the house.

So, how do we feel about boys and dolls?  

When I had my daughter I was always very clear that I did not want her dressed from head to toe in pink, she is not all "sugar and spice" and fairies are wonderful but they do not need to adorn every book, bag, toy, item of clothing etc.  I want my daughter to be happy, healthy, independent and free of gender stereotyping.  I actually didn't think about it that much in regards to my son until now.

I do also have to admit that whatever I may believe and hope for my children, gender differences clearly exist and become apparent so much earlier than I expected.  I like the idea that Harrods has gone to the trouble of creating it's first gender neutral toy department.

Harrods gender-neutral toy department, designed by London and Singapore-based interior architects Shed
But I also think that toys are gender neutral in themselves, it is us who load and apply all the gender meanings to them.  Louis loves football and cooking, cars and handbags, blue and pink, dinosaurs and now Freddie his doll.

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