Isaac and His Doll
I bought Isaac a baby doll.
Recently, we were visiting my mother, who was house sitting for a woman with three granddaughters and a playroom full of baby dolls. The entire time we were there, Isaac played with the dolls, buckling them into their strollers and car seats, rocking them back and forth and laying them down to sleep. I used the occasion as an opportunity to talk to Isaac about the baby that will soon be living with us.
Isaac knows what babies are, and he loves them — there are two in his class at daycare, and he spends as much time playing with them as he does with the kids who are his own age — but I know it’ll be a little different when there’s a baby in our house, taking up his mama’s time and attention. So I decided to buy Isaac his own baby doll.
The hope is that, in the next three months, before the baby is born, we can use the doll to talk about the new baby and sort of practice what it will be like when the baby comes to live with us. Then, after the baby is born, my hope is that Isaac’s doll will keep him involved in the process of caring for the baby. For instance, when it’s time for mama to feed the baby, Isaac can feed his baby. And when it’s time for mama to change the baby’s diaper, Isaac can change his baby’s diaper. And then we can all take a nap at the same time. (Ha ha! Wouldn’t that be nice!)
Of course, I realize that my plans may not work out as intended, and there will still be some jealousy when the new baby arrives, but the goal is for Isaac to understand how and why we take care of our babies and to give him something to do while mama is busy with the real baby.
When I brought Isaac’s baby doll and stroller home and told John my plan, he rolled his eyes at me, but he didn’t object. He didn’t try to tell me I was going to turn our son into a “sissy” or make him gay, which are fairly common — and completely wrong — assumptions made about boys who play with dolls.
First of all, I don’t think you can make someone gay — he just is or he isn’t. And there’s no scientific evidence to prove that allowing little boys to play with dolls causes them to be less masculine men. Most doctors assert that playing with dolls allows boys to mimic their parents’ care for them and practice the nurturing skills they’ll utilize as adults. Allowing them to nurture their dolls and play other “girl games,” like house, may also help instill in them an early understanding of gender equality.
Dr. Robert Needleman, offering advice on www.drspock.com, even suggests that refusing to let boys play with dolls if they want to can lead to confusion and anger, which can cause boys to act in exaggeratedly masculine ways and despise “softness” in other boys.
That’s not to say that I would ever force a doll on Isaac. If I brought this one (which he’s named Isaac) home, and he wanted nothing to do with it, that would be fine. As it stands, he loves it. He pushes the doll around in its stroller, wraps it up in a blanket and changes its diaper about 12 times a day.
Let’s hope he loves his baby brother or sister as much as he loves the doll.