When I was a kid I played with Barbies and baby dolls, and I played with Legos and wood blocks, and I played in the dirt and with rocks, and I played with a kid sized kitchen, and I played with dolls in the dirt and dolls with the wood blocks, and we used sand and mud to make really awesome pies and cakes. We fashioned traps for our neighbors by digging holes in the ground and covering them with long sticks and then leaves and grass to camouflage the sticks. We built forts on our own with no assistance from dad, we went exploring and made museums, we hooked things up to the jungle gym and made systems of pulleys, and we did all of these things with items that we found, not with toys that were purchased for us and certainly not with special pink and purple "girlie engineering" toys. My sister and I were older than my brother so it is not like he was the one dictating what we did, Anne and I definitely had control over most activities. I think that my brother was the lucky one because he had sisters and he was able to play with "girlie" things and it shows in his sensitive nature and compassion for others. It is easy to incorporate any type of male toy into a girl's toy box, but it is much more difficult to do the same for a boy, most dads are not going to go out and buy dolls for their son or allow someone else to buy their son a doll. However, when a boy has sisters he is able to play with dolls and a kitchen and develop skills that are just as important as those developed by playing with "boy" type toys. We need to make sure that we allow boys to play in ways that foster sympathy and empathy, and this is something that is often not done.
Last night RJ and Lily were both playing with Legos, building things together and building things separately. However, RJ can put together a Lego car by following the given directions with very limited assistance, and he has been able to do this for the past year and a half. Lily does not give a shit. She likes to take care of people and has a huge imagination. She is sixteen months younger, so this may change, but right now this is where she is with things. RJ just gets numbers and always seems to have really had a grasp on them. I remember a time when we were sitting with him and he was counting for us and then all of a sudden just started counting backwards from ten. Shannon and I looked at each other like, "Where is this coming from?!" RJ was not even two at the time. He just gets numbers. The kid wakes up thinking numbers and he just turned five, he will rattle off a string of numbers (single digit) and then tell you the sum, "5+5+5+5+5+5 is 30, right?" We have done nothing different with him and Lily, he just seems to understand that type of thing better than she does. The day before they were playing with her dolls and were making them cupcakes and pizza in the little kitchen. They had all of the animals seated on the couch and would talk to them and take care of them. RJ always wants to play with Lily's toys and vice versa, and I see nothing wrong with that.
While I think it is cool to encourage girls to play with things that require them to build, why can they not just build with found things around the house or the yard? Using items like this requires much more creativity and inventiveness than a kit that tells you how to be inventive and creative will ever do. My kids have made pulley systems out of shoe laces and baskets. As parents it is important to have stuff available for your kids that is interesting to them not just something that looks cool and was marketed well. RJ and Lily are both included when Shannon and I are building something or working on a project outside. If we go home to visit my parents, Poppa has them both help him with whatever project he is working on at the time. Make the experience real and interesting not just a toy.
I am not knocking this woman for coming up with a somewhat unique product, but I just think that it is not really all that great. We need to encourage creative thinking, out of the box thinking, spur of the moment thinking, not "Hey, follow these directions and you can make this contraption with these pink and purple parts, thinking."