Beth Oliver Parenthood

On Boys and Barbies

I always knew in my heart of hearts, long before I was ever even pregnant, that I would be a boy mom. It’s a bit of a running joke in Nate’s family that girls seem to only happen about once every ten years. Even without those stats though, I just somehow knew that when I had a child, it would be a boy. After I found out I was pregnant I was pretty much knew it was a boy. I joked that I craved meat and beer, of course it was a boy. At the gender ultrasound I was not even surprised at all when the technician was like, well there’s no doubt it’s a boy (he was nice and spread eagle for that image, ha)! People used to ask me if I was disappointed. Many of my friends said they only ever pictured me as a girl mom, because I was a very girly-girl as a kid and let’s face it, still kind of am even as an adult. But I was not disappointed at all. I grew up with my boy cousins, I liked playing with cars and Legos when I was a kid too. The only thing that made me a little sad is that I always hoped to share my Barbies with a daughter someday.

I’m not against boys playing with dolls. I think it’s a great idea for them to do so, it teaches them nurturing skills and things of that nature. So I knew I could play dolls with Ollie, but many of my attempts to do so over the last few years just haven’t worked out. He simply wasn’t interested and that was fine with me. He loves his stuffed animals and his blankie and we have lots of fun playing with many different other things.

I still brought my box of Barbies, My Little Ponies and Care Bears to my house so I had something around when we have little girls over to play. It’s been mostly stored under a couch. The other day, Ollie pulled the bin out from under the couch. He asked me to open it and was wondering about what was inside.  So, I told him about how these were my toys when I was little. And then the most magical thing happened.

“Mom, can we play with these together?”

Um, sure buddy. Of course we can.

We spent the best afternoon together. He picked out clothes and asked me to dress each doll. We set up my old Playground Kid and this flipping toy that she came with and proceeded to play “gymnastics class” with one of my Ken dolls as coach and another Barbie as the “Mom”. I also rediscovered my very first Unicorn, which was a My Little Pony. I decided to set her on my dresser with some of my other Unicorns.

Our time together was truly what we needed. It’s like the Universe must have known. He and I have been struggling a bit lately. I was gone for those couple of days, we’re encouraging him to do more big boy things since we’re getting closer to kindergarten and I also think he’s been bored and cooped up feeling with the weather and it has led to our butting heads more than I’d like to admit. This experience made all those things melt away. We bonded over those Barbies. It gave me a nice feeling of nostalgia also as I remembered my own childhood.

This may have been a one time experience. We packed them all back up in the bin and put it out of the way again. It also won’t surprise me if he asks to pull them out again. Either way, that afternoon will stay in my heart for a long time to come. Being a boy mom is fun and challenging and rewarding and full of surprises. Being HIS mom, is truly the best.

4 thoughts on “On Boys and Barbies

  1. What a WONDERFUL story! It reflects so well on him, you and your mother-son bond. I’m thrilled the two of you found happiness with these dolls.

  2. Aww this is so sweet. I think society has been getting better about sending a message that it’s okay for girls to play with cars, superheroes, etc. but I don’t hear the opposite message enough for boys. The fact that toys need to be gendered at all is totally ridiculous. I love that you guys shared a bond over your childhood toys and that he had so much fun playing with them!

  3. Aw, I love this. Growing up, my mom used to babysit a group of kids and there were always more girls than boys…but the boys played with dolls, and the girls ran around in the woods, etc. It didn’t really matter. I wish people didn’t think that there has to be “boy toys” and “girl toys”. Kids can like what they like! I’m glad you had this fun afternoon though, and hopefully it’ll happen again. 🙂


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