Friday, 9 September 2016

Fairies drive diggers too (Anne Rooney)

We're going on a digger walk... MicroBint showed her
digger book to these two diggers
There is a little person in my family, known online as MicroBint. MicroBint likes diggers. Every Thursday, I take her on a digger walk. We take photos of the diggers we see and look at them later and talk about them.

The digger thing started a few weeks ago when I took her to a car boot sale. Before we got there, she asked if she could buy a digger. So bought we one. And then on the way home, we passed some children having what in the US would be called a yard sale and here doesn't have a name, and we bought another digger. So she had two diggers and was very happy with them.

That week, she took her diggers to nursery. The nursery assistant didn't really know how to deal with the diggers. I said, as I dropped her off, 'MicroBint has brought her two diggers today'. The nursery assistant asked if she had also brought any 'dollies'. No, she hadn't. Why would she? She had diggers to play with.

A week later, MicroBint asked me to buy her a digger book, which I duly did. It has wheels so you can roll it along - it's pretty good. The digger book is extremely popular, but I have had to nominate a couple of the digger-people to be be ladies because none of the drivers is female. This is more than a little disappointing as the author-illustrator is female.  The nursery assistant was equally baffled by the digger book:

MB: Look, I've brought my digger book.
NA: That's a nice top you have on.
MB: But my digger book...

To be fair, NA did then read the digger book to MB and a new girl, called Lottie. I looked on Amazon for reviews of the digger book. There is only one, by a parent who said that 'Eva' loves the book.

Since MB started nursery, she has started to like pink. And last week she said something made her 'like a princess'. I asked whether looking like a princess was good; she looked confused by the question. This week, we ordered a bridesmaid's dress for her, ad she asked if she could wear it on her digger walk. Perhaps princesses go on digger walks, too. On the latest digger walk, a foreman offered her a job driving diggers when she gets a bit bigger. She was very pleased - not every two-year-old has job offers lined up for later. I wonder if she will be able to wear a bridesmaid's dress? Sadly, there are no female digger drivers on our walks, so sooner or later she will realise that 'diggers aren't for girls'. I want to write a picture book called 'Fairies drive diggers too', but I'm pretty sure no publisher would touch it - because boys wouldn't like to see fairies in a digger.

But I think we're missing a trick by allowing polarisation. It's not just a matter of girls playing with diggers and boys with dolls as that still perpetuates the idea of separate domains even if you can switch between them (or visit, like a tourist). I might not like that MB is interested in princesses and pink,  but only because I think they will displace the diggers and spiders and the black fish she likes because it is the same colour as daddy's dressing gown. So could we have Barbie with a hard hat, and a fairy who drives a digger and if we aboslutely have to have f***ing Elsa (which we have avoided so far - Pikachu still rules!) can she at least wear dungarees and climb a tree? There should be no gendered activities or interests or colours or whatever, and books would be a good place to begin getting rid of them.

Anne Rooney


Katherine Roberts said...

Made me smile. I used to have a Tipper Truck when I was little (a bit like the thing the digger is emptying its load into in your picture.) It was a toy but big enough to for a child to ride, and my little brother and I had loads of fun digging up the garden and driving lumps of earth and stones around, then tipping them out again. No idea if you can still buy these toy trucks... I remember some of the stones we moved were quite heavy, and once I tipped a pile of them out on my brother's foot, so probably health and safety banned them years ago.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I still remember when I was in kindergarten(Is that what you call nursery in England?) and we were having a visit by Santa. I wanted the toy plane. I was offered a dolly instead. I do have a doll from my childhood, but I never played with it, or any other doll, hence its perfect condition. I did have one little-girl longing, though, for a horse.

I see no reason not to have a hard-hat Barbie, considering there's an astronaut Barbie, Barbie as a doctor, Barbie as a Star Trek Federation officer!