The Adventures of Dumbledore and Mr. Carrot Man

Girl has one of those overly pink dollhouse monstrosities taking up most of a corner in her room, one of those toys that I always wanted as a kid, but never got; so I snagged one for her as soon as I could (on crazy sale at Kohl's on Black Friday: score!) Of course she doesn't actually play with it all that much, and it mostly accumulates junk (like the rest of the house.) But sometimes I catch her involved in an elaborate house party of some sort, usually with a pretty motley crew in attendance. Recently we had: Strawberry Shortcake, two My Little Ponies, a dinosaur, Luke Skywalker, Dumbledore, the dollhouse Daddy sans legs (gangrene?), and two carrots. The carrots were not hors d'oeuvres.

This isn't the first time vegetables have turned into a plaything. Once in a giant Costco size bag of carrots (guess which vegetable the kids will eat) we found a carrot that looked like legs, and one that looked like a torso and head. It was thrilling. So, naturally, we put them together with a tiny nail and named it Mr. Carrot Man.

But with arms and legs. And less phallic.


Mr. Carrot Man was cheerful fellow. He liked to entertain us with song and dance numbers. He enjoyed fraternizing with the toys and having grand adventures. He sat on the counter and kept me company as I slaved over boxed macaroni and cheese. And then he got old and shriveled up and gross and I had to throw him away. Oh, Mr. Carrot Man, we hardly knew ye.

I like that the kids play with unusual things or play with their toys in different ways, (possibly minus the time that I stumbled upon their stuffed animals embroiled in some sort of hostage situation, bound and gagged and strung up from the bed posts. That one was a little disturbing.) Especially Girl, who loves princess and baby dolls and ponies and refuses to wear anything but dresses, with the exception of the occasional tutu. I want to be one of those progressive parents who only has gender neutral toys carved from sustainably sourced beets or whatever, but I somehow ended up with plastic superhero action figures for the boys and sparkly high heels and tiaras for the girl. Anything else just gathers dust.

Sometimes I worry that they'll be restricted by gender norms. That my daughter will grow up thinking she has to be pretty to be of worth. After all, hasn't feminism long been associated with rejecting all things feminine? When I was growing up, it felt like anything that was girly was inferior. That it should either be rejected outright or hidden in shame.

I like to think that Girl's generation may be a new kind of feminist. One that doesn't see the disconnect in being feminine and being strong. Because she does kick-ass and look good doing it. And I hope that she'll never find it strange to wear her fanciest dress to poke a stick in mud puddles, have lightsaber fights in heels, or have Barbie pool parties with an alligator, three army men and Princess Tiana. After all, who says girls can't play with carrots?



yeah write

45 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! Or did you mean her? Oh hell, I made her too. So, thank you!

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  2. Hahaha she sounds resourceful!

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  3. Tiaras go well with combat boots. And carrots. Smart kid. ;)

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  4. We used to call our girl Princess Tomboy because she would climb apple trees with her party dress and sparkly shoes on. And I love the carrot person. Great piece, Erin

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    1. Princess Tomboy is perfect, I love it! I was a regular old tomboy so this is all new to me. Thank you!

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  5. I love the carrot! My 7 year old is a curious mix of tomboy and princess. She likes to dig in the dirt and find worms, she just does it with pink sparkly fingernails. Haha!

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    1. Awesome. I love all these girls that are totally confident in either (or both!) roles. I hope they keep it up!

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  6. I used to play with my Mom's sewing buttons for hours. I would divide them up into different families. Imagination can make a toy out of anything great that your daughter has such a vivid one.

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    1. Buttons, yes! I did that with crayons (granted it was during school when I supposed to be paying attention, but still.) I love watching her play, so interesting.

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  7. I remember trying to break the toy stereotypes. It was never successful. Who's to say you can't kick butt and dress like a princess?

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    1. Me either. It why I struggle with it a bit, I think. Luckily she doesn't seem to notice!

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  8. Barbie pool parties with alligators. I love it.

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  9. I really enjoyed this post! I LOVE hearing how creative your kids are! The carrot man was genius. :-)

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    1. Thank you! Well, you find carrots that look like people, what choice do you have?

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  10. I think the definition of feminism is changing to embracing things feminine. As long as you instill confidence in your daughter and make intelligence a value over physical appearance, you should be fine. :)

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    1. I agree about feminism changing, or at least I hope. I had two boys first, so raising a girl is kind of scary sometimes!

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  11. Sounds like you're encouraging your daughter to be a pretty good feminist! And I think all kids should have a carrot to play with!

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    1. I hope so! Maybe I should brand Mr. Carrot Man. Take over the monopoly Mr. Potato Head has on the food-as-toys market...

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  12. I LOVED this! Made my day. And made me actually laugh out loud. Not just LOL. Bravo!

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  13. Loved this. I was a tom boy growing up, but I also played with my little ponies and care bears. It made life more interesting not being limited to "just" girl toys. Sounds like your daughter is having an interesting and fun childhood, too! After all, I never had a carrot to play with :)

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    1. Thanks! I hope her childhood is fun and interesting, I have to wonder what kind of stories she'll be telling when she grows up, though!

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  14. YES because toys made of sustainably grown beets must be better, right? UGH parenting rules. i love that your kids play with carrots, hp characters and disabled dolls. well done!

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    1. Well luckily my kids thwart my attempts to be the perfect mom at every turn so I've had to throw the rules out the window! I love it, too. They're neat kids.

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  15. I think the kids will work it out. And for the record, I think that the people who actively restrict the genderiffic stuff from their kids are doing the same thing as those who push it on them. I might change my mind on that tomorrow, but for today: I stand by that.

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    1. That's really true and a perspective I hadn't really thought about. Probably best to just get out of their way and let them play how they want, really.

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  16. Oh. My. God.
    Loved this post.
    It has the whole of everything in it - gender issues, motherhood, doll houses, carrots, and gangrene. Man it was good.

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    1. Thank you! It was the gangrene that did it for you, right?

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  17. So cute. Love the imaginations of children. They put anything and everything together with reckless abandon.

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    1. I love watching them play to see what craziness they come up with, fascinating stuff.

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  18. Love how you went from the specific to the universal, with great details, and ended with the plight or non-plight, of little girls growing up today. I have a boy, who is gender neutral (maybe because he has Down syndrome). And because he just doesn't care if he wears girly-dress-up clothes at his friend Emma's house for a playdate. She also has Downs, but is a TOTAL girly girl! 100% princess all the way! (Go figure!) She's in Waldorf, so she can at least have a few more years of natural, crunchy development... Did I mention she LOVES old-school Disney movies where the princess rides off into the sunset with the handsome prince!? So my question is, which came first, the girly-girl princess lover? Or Disney? Is she princess prone because of Disney? Or inspight of? Hmmmm. (I think I'm glad I have a boy, who doesn't mind dressing up as a princess once in a while, it's all good.) Phew!

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    1. Wow, good question. What is it about the princess stuff that draws girls in? Would they play that way anyway? Sounds like a thesis paper. I love that your son is totally immune to all that stuff, makes it much less complicated! I had boys first, so this girly stuff is tricky for me.

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  19. Definitely a good read :) ... lol @ "hostage situation" ... haven't had my kids pull that one off yet ;)

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    1. Yeah I just turned and backed out of the room quietly. I'd rather not know the details.

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  20. Most toys come too specific these days. The barn moos for you - no work or imagination involved. The phone rings and talks dictating your conversation. The wands sparkle so you don't have to pretend. It's all so annoying to me. Kids need toys that let them be free to imagine whatever they want. Carrot man was awesome! So happy and encouraged to know that parents let kids play however they want to play. Because is there a 'wrong' way to play anyway?

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    1. Oh I so agree! And the toys like that are so boring! How many times can you push the dumb button before it loses it's appeal or your mother is forced to smash it to bits in a rage? It's true, though, whatever a toy is, it should really just be a tool for imagination.

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  21. I kept hearing the pictured carrot exclaim "Ohhhhhh noooooo" in a Mr. Bill-type voice.

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