Nala went to bed the night of her birthday party repeating, "That was the best birthday ever."
Nala woke up the day after her 4th birthday party, "I think I need more presents."
I had to chuckle, "Well Christmas is coming soon and you'll get more present then."
"I want more presents now!"
"Ok well next year we're not going to let any of your friends give you presents for your birthday party just so you can learn to be thankful for what you get."
That shut her up.
I tried to teach Nala that birthdays aren't just about getting presents. I tried to explain that it's about celebrating with the people you love.
She's obsessed with pink and princesses, concerned with people judging her appearance, and very materialistic. So far, pretty much the opposite of values I've tried to instill.
I made it a direct point to steer her away from pink as a baby. I decided the color pink boxes girls in to a stereotype, limits their options, and makes them slaves to such a short spectrum. Like a communist country only dishing out white bread and nothing else. You need to taste the rainbow Nala, you shouldn't just wear pink because Mattel says it's the girl color.
But she revolted and now refuses to wear anything but pink.
Then she says things like, "The kids are going to laugh at me if I wear this."
I wish she wouldn't care about what other kids think.
She noticed every person who came to her party and what they brought. The gifts she didn't like quickly got tossed aside with a snooty upturned nose. I suggested donating them to toys for tots. "No. Those are my toys and I'm going to play with them."
Then I suggested giving some of her stuffed animals to kids who lost everything in Super Storm Sandy. "No, those are mine."
In contrast, Kaio wrapped up one of his favorite gifts from his birthday to give to his friend at school as a Christmas present. I had to try to convince him to, A. wait until Christmas and B. consider giving something else. Kaio has always been so generous. Last year as we cleaned out toys to donate, Kaio put his very favorite toys in the donation bag. At lego league last week he saw a boy crying because he didn't get the lego character he wanted, Kaio quickly handed his lego figure over to the boy and ran off without even waiting to hear if the boy said 'thank you.'
Kaio asks for lots of toys, and very specific ones. But he also enjoys them and then sets them free to make space in his life for new things.
Nala doesn't ask for much at all, but gets very attached to the things in her life, personifies them and finds comfort in them.
So, I don't know if you've seen these yet but Lego has a line for girls. It's called "Friends" and the legos are pink and purple, with little animals, flowers, and butterfly stickers. Instead of dragons and space ships you can build houses and hair salons.
The first time we were ever exposed to these was on a commercial over at my brother's house. Nala immediately perked up, "Look Legos for girls! I want those!"
It literally sickened me that the educational creative toy of choice had succumb to the same girly girl marketing box. Friends around the net were crabbing on lego for ditching the generic color scheme and turning the traditional lego figures into slender miniskirt-wearing teens. It seemed like no toy was sacred anymore. But really the change began long ago, in the last decade the company seemed to make a conscious decision to market strictly to boys with all the product line themes being action adventure or monster focused.
I remember back in the 80's growing up and loving legoes. Although at the time they were pricey and it was a major treat if my parents bought me a tiny set. At my school we had tons of legos and I'd build houses and cars, and trade the special more rare legos (like a blue steering wheel) with other kids.
Nala would come with me to Kaio's lego league at his elementary school and play. We had 3000 legos for the kids to build with. Nala found 5 little pink legos in the whole batch and would sit there every week playing with her little pink legos, pretending they were food for her puppy, or building a little house out of them. Each week she'd clean up the legos into a bag and the next week she'd seek them out again. I started to feel that a set of pink legos would make her a happy kid.
So for her birthday my aunt got her a pink lego bucket set. As she sifted through the pieces she found the set came with a girl figure, "Look it's me! It's Nala." Then she proceeded to attach lego Wolverine claws (from one of Kaio's sets) to the girl figure and scratch attack a dragon enemy. "Rarrrrr I get you."
A girl after my heart.
So my dad bought her the Lego Friend's Stable, which comes with horses and a little kity cat. She seems to love it. I assembled it for her and she played for hours. She loves the flowers and little animals. It does seem to be a great toy for her. I just wish it wasn't so pink. But then she might not like it as much...
So I don't know what the right answer is, should I let her play with the girl things or try to keep them from her? I get the feeling like she's going to be who she is regardless. As she insists that one toy is for girls and another for boys, I try to tell her that girls and boys can play with the same toys. But then it's just me against the pictures on the boxes and commercials on the TV.