"You like dressing me up, so why cant I dress up my dolls?"
I see a girl fussing over her dolls and I think, ugh, gender stereotyping.
Sanah has an interesting selection of rag dolls from all over, in different colours and she has her two baby sized, baby shaped, blonde haired, blue eyed dolls. She was gifted a barbie but she has never really sat and fussed over it. She can not be separated from her baby shaped dolls. I see her mother her dolls and think about role play.
Fussing over the dolls, cuddling them, bathing them, making them sleep, taking them around for a walk, setting them down and telling them stories. She is mirroring me.She often admonishes the dolls," Dont disturb me now, I am working." She picks up the phone and says, "I am busy with my babies, I cant talk to you now."
She plays out the role of mother, nurturer to her dolls in the same mode as she sees me. Instead of damning the role play that is an integral part of her figuring out the world I need to be conscious and critical of the kind of mother I am. Too strict? Too busy? Too preoccupied? Soneone whose life revolves around her kids and husband? Someone who loves the child to bits but has an independent life, an existence outside the role of mother and wife?
I burst with pride when my child tells me "when I grow up I want to be a mummy and a writer". Thats the combination that she normally comes up with but at times she says, a mother and a drummer, a mother and a dancer. A friend,a fierce feminist, looked a bit alarmed seeing me pleased. I told her I did not see my feminist position compromised in any way. She was playing out her fantasy keeping me, and my mum ( and so many of my friends) as a reference point. For the time being, I am going to loom larger than life. She is being nurtured, she wants to nurture. She equally has as many adult females around her who are fulfilling their life's ambition through their work and creativity, not as being a mother. They are going to be around in her life and as she outgrows me being her role model she will make her choices. She will seek fulfillment. All I can do is to make sure she is not surrounded by people playing out gender stereotypes, then I can calmly enjoy watching my child tie her baby to her back in my dupatta and potter around saying, gosh I am so busy.