Boys and Dolls

I’m sure most of you have read that great article in Mothering  Dec 2008 about boys and their dolls. It actually just became available today, which is fantastic timing for this post.  I just wanted to write a little bit about how I feel about boys and dolls, from the perspective of a mom with 2 boys with  a husband who struggled with it (just a bit- even though he makes the dolls with me!)

benandtofu.jpg

Ben mimicing Mama when Jasper gives her a ‘love bite’ while breastfeeding!

There are few things sweeter than your four year old mimicking your mothering on their doll. ‘Tofu’ is breastfed, carried in a sling and buckled into car-seats with much love. I have to admit, it was a slow start to their relationship and it did take some participation on my part .  I surprised Ben with Tofu a few days before Jasper was born. ‘Tofu’ was placed under the covers next to Ben before he awoke one morning, Ben saw him and exclaimed ‘Here’s my friend- his name is Tofu’. Benjamin had a hand in creating Tofu, he chose his hair and eye colour, but I’m sure he would have been happy with whatever I’d had given him. I tried to be subtle on how I introduced Tofu, knowing that if I made a big deal out of him Benjamin would most likely be turned off by him. (This is just a character trait in my son, the more excited I am about, lets say, carrots, the less he likes them. I think I’m in for a good time when he’s 14!)  So, daily we placed Tofu in bed with Benjamin, took him along with us and every once in a while would place Tofu’s mouth by our ear to hear something that he ‘said’ – like ‘Tofu likes when you snuggle him at night, he gets lonely sometimes and needs a friend to cuddle’ – this was really effective. Ben loved to hear what secrets Tofu would tell us and soon he’d tell us things that Tofu would whisper in his ear. It took about a month of doing this but then the relationship just took off. Benjamin started to do all those things that I’d read about children doing with their dolls. Tofu took on a life of his own – he plays cars with him, sleeps with him and goes on adventures. Its incredible to watch the relationship develop and see your child’s imagination soar. This time is so precious and fleeting, I think encouraging imagination is one of the best gifts a parent can give their children.

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Little C and his boys!

Tofu has also been of great comfort to Ben. The wool that he is stuffed with smells like home (wool absorbs smell) so when we take trips to Nonna’s house in Vancouver the transition is smooth. If Ben is upset, Tofu is usually the first thing he grabs and is almost immediately calmed just by giving him a snuggle. I’ve seen Ben ask Tofu to please finish his dinner, using all the language that we use with Ben.  We watch  Ben treat and talk to Tofu as we do to our children. Renata wrote this to me when she received her boys dolls..

What a surprise – boys do love dolls too!!!!! It brought tears to my eyes when they opened the box and immediately started to care and parenting the little dolls. It’s nice to see them interacting with the dolls because we realize what they appreciate in our parenting…my older one says to the doll:”Thanks for being who you are”,,,,exactly like we say to him….and it makes me happy to see that he passes it on to his “child”.

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E and his doll.

Re reading this, I realize that this post is just about children and their dolls – not just boys and dolls. It does seem to be a special thing to see the boy/doll relationship develop though. Perhaps because of social conditioning, perhaps because boys (well mine anyhow) seem to have an innate love for all things mechanical. It just feels as though as a mom I am doing something right here, nurturing a sensitivity that sometimes gets overlooked with our little guys and perhaps helping to make my little man into a great daddy someday.

xo

Christina

Sue - March 25, 2009 - 5:32 am

Great post Christina! :0)
We have 3 boys and I too believe that boys need to develope the “softer” nurturing side in them to become rounded beings.

Have a wonderful day! :0)
Sue

Shawn - March 25, 2009 - 8:11 am

Perfect. A while back you talked about writing about boys and their dolls and I was so glad to see your post today. I enjoyed reading how you helped foster the relationship and then how it took on it’s own life. I’m new to parenting and this helps so much. Love the part about the secrets. Thank you for sharing.

Blessings, Shawn

BTW I did enjoy the Mothering article. That was one I earmarked for husband. He actually didn’t need too much convincing, but it helped him understand what my goals were with regards to doll play.

Naomi - March 25, 2009 - 10:38 am

The picture of Ben is priceless! How funny.

I will have to get a Bamboletta for Jasper’s second birthday in July. Although I think it might need to have a robot costume… think you can do that?

cheryl - March 25, 2009 - 10:45 am

My son still wonders what antics his bear that he recieved when he was born will do,( I suspect this would work equally with a doll ) Daniel (the bear) will be reading or have set up a castle out of blocks or a pinic with other guys, while my son is out playing or at school. He is older, 9 now, but still enjoys very much the things Daniel decides to do, on his own of course.

Meike - March 25, 2009 - 11:56 am

Excellent post! I made my son Olivier a doll for his fifth birthday last December, and he will defend his ‘Poppie’ (Dutch for dolly) most adamently when he’s got friends over after school and they have the audacity to utter the words ‘doll’ and ‘girls’ in one sentence. They’re inseparable. It’s the best present I’ve ever made him. :)

Hilary - March 25, 2009 - 1:19 pm

What a wonderful post! Thanks for the insight. I have also enjoyed reading about the idea of a doll before a new baby in both your situation and in the winner of Jasmyn. I am expecting our second in August. They will be about 23 months apart. I have debated about whether Mary is still too young for a bamboletta or if this would be a good tool. Any thoughts on her age and a Bamboletta baby? Thanks for all your great parenting insight in addition to your beautiful products.
Hilary

Hilary - March 25, 2009 - 1:19 pm

Sorry, Mary will be 23 months when the new baby joins us!

Tara - March 25, 2009 - 2:03 pm

I love Mothering mag and I love this post. Ben’s pic made me laugh really hard! It is so great that these boundaries are being broken down. Every boy should have a doll to nurture! The absent father is becoming something of the past.

Leah Killian - March 25, 2009 - 5:23 pm

This post made me get a little weepy (will the hormones ever leave?) “Thanks for being who you are. . .” That part got me. I have to use that line with my kids.

Speaking of boys and dolls- you should see my boy with his baby brother right now- all snuggled up. We need to teach these boys how to be good fathers- the world needs more of those :-)

Christine - March 26, 2009 - 3:21 am

Great post, love it! My daughter is not really a doll person, although it’s getting more now, but my son is so funny with a doll. He will put on this soft and high-pitched voice and ask the doll “are you hungry?” or “come, come with me and let’s look in the fridge together!” It’s so cute. He’s 26 months old now. Of course boys can play with dolls too and I think it can also help with working through emotions or replaying what happened that day (or some other time). Personally I never pretend the doll can talk or anything, but if the kids ask me I will acknowledge the doll is hungry/tired/whatever and play along with them.

Christine

Elizabeth - March 26, 2009 - 8:06 am

My son was introduced to love dolls shortly before his sister was born. I used the doll to show him how to take care of a baby…. needless to say it was natural process for him. Today they both play with their dolls together. I recently ordered the bamboletta dolls for both and can’t wait for them to arrive…

thanks for sharing!

Tressa - March 26, 2009 - 12:34 pm

Bamboletta, inspiring the empathetic spirit of little ones, one doll at a time.

Tressa - March 26, 2009 - 12:34 pm

And, their parents!

Catriona - March 26, 2009 - 3:17 pm

Fabulous! As a mother of 3 boys myself (15,12 & 7), it was really interesting to see their reactions to the Thyme doll I purchased from you for their sister (5) for Easter. They were all suitably impressed, and I was surprised when not only my 7 y.o., but 12 y.o., expressed interest in a Bamboletta of their own! So bring on the boy dolls!

Monique - March 26, 2009 - 6:18 pm

Great pic of Benjamin! he’s growing up so fast- miss you!

lauralee - March 27, 2009 - 6:31 am

I have three boys. My middle son particularly is attached to his doll and I get so gooey watching him interact. Out of my three, my middle one oozes testosterone which I find particularly interesting he became the most attached I am so thankful for posts like this and books that gave me the idea in the first place because I feel strongly it will help my sons in the future to be compassionate. When they opened their boxes with new dolls… I couldn’t have been prouder of them with their response. thanks for this great post! ~lauralee

bethany - March 27, 2009 - 2:26 pm

My son has always loved stuffed animals, etc. and I wish I had found you back when he was younger. Whenever he does or says anything nurturing, I always say “You’ll make a great Daddy someday!” He likes to hear that. I don’t see why boys showing care to a baby isn’t seen as strong. It takes a lot of strength to raise a child!!! Strength of energy and especially strength of character!!

Heather - March 27, 2009 - 10:13 pm

I have a Ben too. When he was two years old he would sit next to me, while I was nursing his baby sister, and nurse a tiny white stuffed animal seal, or sometimes Mr. Potato Head. He’s 9 now, and not at all girly. Nothing to worry about! Little kids are just so innocent and sweet.

Melody F. - December 13, 2009 - 6:10 pm

My husband was not for dolls for my sons but i am a collector of creepier collectible dolls, so he is use to seeing them. I wanted my son to sexperience the feeling i get when i get a new doll or the love i feel when i see my sweet doll. I cuddle her and generally enjoy just snugging whenever i am not snuggling my lo. Ive been told i cant have more children but to have one of these cuddly dolls to share with my son would be a gift in itself. I have only one child a boy but i think showing love a learning love is gender neutral so if he loves his boy doll then i have done a good job as a parent. Atleast i think so.

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