A Parenting Lesson in the Toy Aisle

“No Mama, that’s a boy toy! I want the Elsa microphone!”

In general, I don’t have many flashes of brilliance as a parent, but one of mine is that I have NEVER bought my kid a toy when she is with me at the store. I have avoided the tantrums, tears and demands of “buy me this” for 3 solid years. The same goes at parks, museums, the zoo… pretty much anywhere. We have total gift shop/toy section bliss.

BUT! My daughter had a particularly good day that day. She wanted to go the store and do something sweet for someone else and I wanted to reward that. She was old enough to understand this was special and wouldn’t be the norm. I also had just gotten rid of most of our toddler outdoor toys and wanted to get something we could do outside together. I had such high hopes! Maybe ping pong? A tee ball set? A little soccer kit?

No. She wanted a sparkly Elsa and Ana Frozen karaoke microphone. My immediate thoughts ::

  1. Kid, you will play with this for two seconds and give up on it.
  2. I will hate this. “Let it Go” for 3 years has taken a mental toll, ya’ll.
  3. OUTDOORS toy, kid… outdoors!

I quickly found a cute tee ball set with stand and tried to distract her with this. To which she replied “That’s a boy toy, Mama, and I’m a girl. Only boys play sports!”

Y’all. I kind of felt crushed. I felt like I let down my kid. How was this her mindset? Where did this come from? She’s 3 ½ and she already thought she was limited? For a brief second I just felt complete failure.

I took a breath and scanned my options. I had to fix this. I stooped down to her level and told her that little girls can play tee-ball just like little boys. She was adamant that was not the case. I didn’t want to punish her and force her to get the tee ball set – she’s a stubborn one. So I made her a deal. “Hunny, you can get both things this one time. Then after a few days we will see which toy we like better. Just remember, you can do anything and play with anything you want!”

I stood up to a young pregnant woman heading my way looking upset. I asked her if she was ok and she burst into tears. She explained to me she was 6 months pregnant, having a girl, and is completely terrified of how to raise a girl in today’s world. She heard me talking to my daughter, and just needed to know how I knew how to handle that situation so perfectly. I laughed you guys. I let her in on the truth of how I felt like a total failure 20 seconds before that moment, and that you just learn as you go. You just hope you give them the tools they need, and you do your best. She thanked me for telling her exactly what she needed to hear and bought her own tee ball set “for later.”

So maybe it’s ok to have that second to feel like you let your kid down. Maybe you didn’t instill a value or thought you felt you should have. But what is more important is how you recover and manage it once you are aware.

For the record, we recently went to our very first baseball game – Astros vs Cleveland {I’m from Cleveland} and M was so excited to watch the players play baseball… just like her.

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