As part of getting ready for Baby 2’s arrival, I thought it would be smart to prepare Brayden for the role of Big Brother. While he knows the association between my belly and the word “baby”, I doubt that he grasps the idea that the “baby” will soon be vacating the belly to steal his toys and mommy and daddy’s attention. I thought, like many moms before me, that getting him a doll might help with preparation for this reality. At the very least, we could use the doll to model positive big brother behaviors to hopefully keep eye poking and pinching to a minimum. We could practice being “gentle” and “quiet” because those are two difficult words for my 16-month old to put into practice.
And so the search for Brayden’s doll began. I thought it would be a one-stop shop because baby dolls are everywhere. But, as it turns out, baby BOY dolls are not. It’s not that I’m opposed to my son playing with a pink dolly, but it’s the fact that I couldn’t find a blue one that prevented me from buying one at all. It’s the principle of the whole thing. Sure, dolls might not be popular toys for little boys. And that probably ties in with the whole sociological vs. biological debate of toy preference between the two genders. A bigger, more complex issue I will leave for someone else to blog about. For the purpose of this post, let’s assume that dolls are for little girls. Even then, why aren’t there boy dolls? What are we teaching our little girls if all of their dolls are also little girls? Many will have little brothers. And many will grow up to be mommies of little boys. (Like me, for example.) And, though I may not get to dress my babies in those adorable headbands and frilly dresses, and even though the baby boy’s clothing department is a quarter of the size of the one for baby girls, I love having a son. Wouldn’t a little girl feel the same way about having a boy doll?
Disappointed that I couldn’t find a somewhat realistic baby brother model for B, I decided to think outside the box. There weren’t any boys to accompany the Mollys, Kirstens, and Samanthas of the doll world, so I had to make a compromise. Which is where a $5 Kohl’s Cares for Kids stuffed animal comes in… Meet Dino. A plush, likeable T-Rex from a Curious George story who doubles as a training device for brotherhood. And Brayden loves him! He speaks to him in the soft cooing voice he reserves for when someone has a “boo-boo”. He knows that “gentle” means patting Dino’s head. He gives his dinosaur brother hugs and kisses. He shares his toys and even rocks his pal in the rock and play sleeper. When he sits Dino beside him to watch Blue’s Clues, and brings socks to Kevin to put on Dino’s feet, I can’t help but think he’s getting the hang of it. That maybe, in spite of toy-manufacturer’s prejudice against boy dolls, my son is learning to be a good big brother. To a soft, mute, cuddly toy dinosaur, that is. Let’s just hope he gives the same care and attention to his little sibling even though he isn’t green with a scaly tail and a toothy grin.