Why shouldn’t my daughter have a play kitchen?

For Christmas, my parents got Mabel a play kitchen.  I picked it out.  It’s as close to the one I had when I was little as I could find.

She’s really enjoying it.  Making things for everyone to eat, wearing the apron her other grandma got her, baking, microwaving, etc.

I posted this picture of Mabel with her kitchen to F*cebook on Christmas Day, with the caption, “Best Christmas present!”

A friend of mine semi-sarcastically responded, “Oh, I know you wanted this, but seriously, cooking? Shouldn’t she be doing something a little less lady like, as in blowing stuff up? Mixing chemicals? Ha ha, MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

I replied, “Following recipes for baking is just like following protocols for experiments! It’s good practice!”

I certainly don’t want to inundate Mabel with princess paraphernalia, but there is nothing wrong with a girl having dolls and a kitchen to play with.  I had all those things, and I became a scientist!

What I said is true.  Baking and following recipes are good practice for doing experiments and following protocols in the lab.  There’s a reason most biochemistry departments started out as food science and nutrition departments.  There’s real chemistry behind the need for baking soda versus baking powder in a recipe.  Yeast that leaven our bread do so by metabolizing the carbohydrates in the dough and producing carbon dioxide- and it’s not coincidental that baker’s yeast is a commonly used/studied strain in labs across the world.

Not every toy has to be blatantly educational.  Kids learn through play, and that’s educational enough for me.

However, I also don’t think I have to be paranoid about allowing my daughter to play with ‘girls toys.’  She plays with whatever interests her.  It’s her choice that she prefers the Little People Farm to the Little People Dollhouse- she has access to both.  Mac and I are conscious of societal gender constructs (Hello!  He’s a stay at home dad and I’m the wife with the full time job).  When given the choice, we generally choose gender neutral items.  The reason for this is two-fold.  First, it’s practical, knowing we wanted more children we didn’t want to have to purchase new items if the second kid was a boy (which is it), and second, we didn’t want to force pink/princess/girlie stuff on our daughter.

Mabel’s 2nd birthday was earlier this month.  We got her an easel (she’s really into drawing right now) and a ‘feeding set’ for her dolls- with those cheapo bottles where the liquid ‘disappears’ when you tip it up.  She can pretend to me a mom and an artist.


Filed under #scimom, Mabel, Mother, Scientist

2 responses to “Why shouldn’t my daughter have a play kitchen?

  1. I’ve thought about this same issue myself. Though we don’t have a play kitchen yet (no room!), I think we’ll be getting one for BabyC. I also think I’d want the same thing if I had a little boy. She watches me in the kitchen all the time, so it is natural for her to enjoy playing in her own version. And as you know, I’m serious about passing on a love of good food (and maybe even cooking) to her, and I agree that cooking with kids offers lots of potential lessons in math and science, so I’m all for it! It isn’t about gender to me – cooking and food are a part of all of our daily lives.

  2. Pingback: If only… | mommacommaphd

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