I used to roll my eyes at moms that approached their children’s toy purchases with the fierce passion of a affineur at a festival of cheese. (Do they have festivals of cheese? If not, they should. If they do, then why am I not at one right now?) I couldn’t understand the way they hemmed and hawed until they ended up filling the space around the Christmas tree with swedish “toys” that looked more like first year woodshop experiments.
And then I had kids.
While our Christmases have yet to reach the “Hey, mom! Is it a spoon or a doll?” stage, I am much more concerned about the playthings I put into my babies hands. In our adult lives our environments and the activities that fill them matter very much. Of course, we know it is the same for our children. We all try to make them eat their vegetables, we all try to keep relatively clean houses (you know, at least too clean for an infestation of any kind) and most of us have spent too much money on any number of baby einstein DVDs while pretending that, somehow, that TV is the good kind. And yet, if you are anything like me, over the years our playroom has become awash aisle in the bright and shining without imagination and the overpriced and underdeveloped. It is enough. Or rather, it is too much.
The toys our children play with are really the tools through which they are beginning to understand the world. Our children, our daughters especially, should be as well equipped in the playroom as we hope they will be in the real world. This doesn’t mean more toys, it means toys more deliberately chosen. Over the next few months, I am going to be writing about toys that are fun, age appropriate, well made and - drum roll, please - actually serve to empower our daughters.
The Lottie Doll by Arklu
Kawaii Karate Lottie is based on real life Sensei Debi Steven.
I can’t say enough good things about Lottie dolls, but heaven knows I am going to give it my best try. Let’s let Arklu’s description of the doll serve as the perfect introduction,
Lottie has a 'childlike' body - she doesn't wear makeup, jewelry or high heels and she can stand on her own two feet (always a useful life skill for all girls, big and small).
As a cherry on top, the Lottie doll tagline is "Be bold, Be brave, Be you."
Can I get an amen?
Each doll is anxiously engaged in a fulfilling activity! There is Butterfly Protector Lottie! Karate Lottie! Lottie who builds robots! An animal shelter serving Lottie! And, one of my current favorites, Pirate Lottie, a lovely doll based on the infamous female pirate, Grace O’Malley. Ms. O’Malley is a woman the writers of history repeatedly tried to sweep under the rug as her achievements and exploits did not match their concept of womanhood. She lived fiercely, conversed in Latin and met with Queen Elizabeth I, another very strong women. And now you can tell your daughters all about her adventures while they PLAY WITH A DOLL INSPIRED BY A REAL WOMAN INSTEAD OF A PLASTIC APPROXIMATION OF A FALSE REALITY. (I’m looking at you, Malibu Barbie.)
We’ve started our Lottie Doll collection with Lighthouse Keeper Lottie. (And here is where I start crying and fist pumping and shouting the good news of womanhood….again.) This little Lottie is off visiting lighthouses and learning about the men and women who kept the beacons shining in at all times of the year and in all weather, so that they could help lead people home. And, if you check out her outfit, she is doing it in grand style.
As Zuzu plays with her doll, we talk about ships and their sailors and how the storms of the sea aren’t so different than the storms in our own lives. We talk about famous female lighthouse keepers like Ida Lewis, who saved so many lives she was visited by dignitaries, presidents and a class of Coast Guard bouy tenders is still named after her to this day. And finally, when my little girl thinks we were just playing dolls, we discuss the light she has inside of her and the power it holds on even the darkest of nights.
It’s really a lesson I am learning right along with her. As is so often the case, I am discovering that the things I think are so necessary for my daughters are also vital to me.
Thank goodness for playtime.