As I babysat for a three-year old boy last night, I admired the way he played so carefree. I reflected on how playing is a child’s only real duty – with the exception of eating and sleeping. When I asked him what he did at school that day, he answered “played”, with the sort of tone that said “duh, what else?” I watched him run from one end of the house to the other sliding across the wooden floors and laughing. I watched him throw his plush football around, careless of where it landed, eager to pick it back up and toss it again. I watched him put together his train tracks and watch with slight boredom as his Thomas train slowly went around the tracks.
All of this amazed me as he bounced from toy to toy, excited to show me all the cool things that filled his playroom. But what I loved most about his large, toy-filled playroom was that some traditionally “girl” toys were present as well. He had a play kitchen set up complete with a play stove and oven; a large plastic doll house that featured miniature furniture and small dolls and a Barbie jeep truck, similar to the one I used to play with. All of these “girly” toys to the critical eye would seem out of place next to his Tonka trucks and plastic tool sets. Yet, I appreciated this mixture of “girl” and “boy” toys his mother provided for him.