Yesterday, a girl who was about eight or nine came in with her aunt to look at building kits. (I work in a store that sells nothing but a very popular kind of brick based building toy, but I bet you can figure out which one without me saying it.)
We’re supposed to go around and help out customers with finding something that they think would be appropriate for themselves or someone else. I found this pair in the Superheroes section, the aunt looking a little stressed.
From what she told me, the girl had her heart set on a Hulk building kit. It wasn’t that the set was very expensive, or that it wasn’t age appropriate, but what had her worried was the fact that it had The Hulk. “It’s a boy toy,” the adult told me, looking down at her niece. “Can you PLEASE show her some girl sets?”
But the little girl just kind of turned away and shook her head, saying “No, I want THIS one. See? It’s the Hulk!” And the aunt at this point actually leaves me with the girl while she goes and grabs one of the kits marketed towards girls. She next tried to show how it had a horse farm with horses and the girls would ride them. I’d like to point out that this is a more expensive kit a couple times more than the super hero one.
But again, the little girl wasn’t interested and just smiled down at the box she had in her hands. Finally, I asked her “Sweetie, why don’t you tell us why you like the Hulk so much?”
And her face just LIT up as she told me all about how she liked the fact that he was green (her favorite color), and could go around smashing stuff. Also that he was really strong and protected people. He was a hero, even if he was a monster. Furthermore, her father liked the Hulk as well, and they’d often play being pretend “Big and little hulk” and run around the backyard pretending to smash stuff. It was sort of touching how she next described how her dad would set up soft piles of things for them to smash into while they saved people.
And then she looks up at her aunt and says “But I don’t get to see daddy a lot. He lives in another state.” The aunt was kinda stunned at this point, and just handed me the “girl kit” before taking her niece up to the counter for checkout without another argument. The little girl got to take home her hero and build him, and be reminded of fun times with her father.
We have a lot of little girls who come into the store who express interest in the toys that many assume are just for boys. I try to ask questions about why they like that kit so much, because most of the time, they’re VERY happy to tell you. I wish more parents would keep an open mind and discussion before simply dividing toys up into genders.