Quite an innocent, unassuming little character...I'm sure you'll agree.
You wouldn't think that something as sweet & innocent as Billy - a simple child's rag doll - would cause any sort of problems, would you?
He's just a doll, after all. Intended for the use of a child.
When Billy was purchased, I didn't notice any warnings on the label informing me that Billy was intended for any specific type of child.
There was nothing about Billy that made me think for a second that he may not be a suitable toy for Tyne.
And neither did Tyne...when he was presented with Billy, he didn't recoil in horror. He didn't look at me with questioning and suspicious eyes wondering why I was trying to trick him.
He simply took the doll, kissed him and chewed his hands - as he has done pretty much every day since Billy came into his life.
However, after publishing some photos of Tyne with Billy on social networking sites - I noticed a trend among the comments from friends.
"He's got a doll?!" and "Lol isn't he a boy?!" being the common theme.
I sniggered to myself, amused that some people still possess such outdated ideas about toys and assumed that these were just a couple of isolated people, but then we took Billy out one day...
While we were walking around the shops, a child pointed to Tyne and Billy and proclaimed to her mother "Mummy, look - that boy has got a dolly!!!!"
I didn't look up but I listened instead for the mothers reply - she said simply "Oh yes, so he has."
The little girl continued "But Mummy, he's a boy....dollies aren't for boys!"
I waited to hear the mother say "Of course they are, they're for anybody who wants to play with them" - instead I heard "I know darling, that's a bit silly isn't it".
This confuses me.
What exactly is "a bit silly" about a boy having a doll?
What surprises people so much about a boy having a doll?!
I'm not too sure what is so taboo about the subject - dolls encourage children to learn about faces (I often ask Tyne to point out Billys eyes, hair, etc), they encourage them to be affectionate and gentle when playing "Baby" with a doll - aren't these traits we should want to encourage in our children regardless of their gender?
Or should a mother of boys instead be expected to encourage her child to be rough and ready, to be tough and "MANLY" - encouraging him to play sports and play with toy cars and swords only?
Well no, actually - my intention is not to mould Tyne in any of these ways.
If he grows up to have an interest in sports or enjoy rough play, then so be it - if he grows up to want to play with dolls or kitchens or dress up in Princess dresses - then so be it.
He's a child exploring the world around him through play -it's all about having fun and learning.
Jon of course has other ideas and insists on correcting me when I ask where Tyne's doll is - his common response is "It's not a doll, its an action figure".....Of course he's only joking, but I wouldn't be surprised if deep down he had reservations about Tyne playing with toys that are traditionally seen as "girly".
He has already argued with me when I've said that I intend to buy a toy kitchen and a pram for Tyne next year....his point of view is that these things shouldn't be forced on a child, but only given if he asks for them specifically - and if he doesnt, then traditional boys toys should be offered.
My opinion is that a wide array of toys should be made available, and he can simply pick and choose what he likes to play with.
I'd love to know what other parents opinions are - I suspect that very few people in this day and age would ever deny their son a toy that he expressed a desire to play with purely because it's traditionally seen as a girls toy, but would you actively encourage them to choose these toys? Only provide them if asked for? Or provide both options and let the child choose?
In the meantime, Billy is a big hit and I certainly will not be listening to the opinions of anybody else.
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