Feb. 9th, 2012

constance: (*builds*)
You know what I believe? That sooner or later, we have to take responsibility for our issues and our mistakes. Sure, my life was molded by the adults who raised me, but at some point I became an adult capable of making my own decisions and running my own life, and my every decision may have been informed by every moment of my childhood and adulthood that led up to it, BUT, and here's the thing, they have ultimately, every one of them, been decisions of my making. I am the architect of my own life, people, for better or for worse. I genuinely believe that.

Except that lately, I've been resenting my parents for one seemingly tiny thing, or one set of interrelated seemingly tiny things. It's been on my mind because lately there've been a rash of press coverage about girls and LEGO, and the asinine new all-pink LEGO sets that turn building into an activity as stereotypically girly as dressing up your dolls, or painting your toenails pink with nontoxic Tinkerbell nail polish.

Not that there's anything wrong with dolls, or nail polish. I painted the hell out of my toenails, and I played with my dolls until they were all grubby and nappy-haired (I had a particular fondness for cutting their hair into ragged bobs that persists to this day, although now I just practice on myself). But the point of all this recent press is that LEGO, and other companies, really don't need to segregate their product; girls like building toys, and they'll play with green and red and blue as readily as they will with pink.

I loved LEGO as a kid (unsurprising confession: I still do), and I didn't care the least bit that the pieces didn't come in pink. I played with my brother's sets all the time. Whenever I went over to my best friend's house, that was the first thing I suggested when we were thinking up things to play.

You note the problem with that last paragraph, right? That I had to play with my brother's sets, or my friends', because I never had any of my own. That in spite of having wanted to be an architect from the first house plan I drew at the age of six, and in spite of requesting, for years, for every gift-expectant occasion, LEGO, or Erector Sets, or even Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys, I never got them. My brother got them instead, and I played with them because, luckily, he thought I was awesome for a long time, but those building toys, LEGO and erector sets and Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs, those were for boys, and everyone knew it. A couple of times I tried to save my allowance to buy my own, and when my mother brought me to the toy store, I always ended up with something else instead. "Oh, you don't want those!" she'd say, and steer me to the Girl Things. Oh, the curse of the biddable child!

Anyway, I've been reading all these articles, and working myself up to a heaving (and deeply personal) indignation over them. I think that on the whole, my parents did a decent job and, not entirely coincidentally, raised a decent human being. I think that on the whole, they don't have a lot to apologize for, and I don't have a lot to regret in them. But I regret this. More than that, I resent it, and I'm not one to carry around residual resentments for years, so I'm thinking that this small surprise resentment just lay dormant and unaddressed for many years, but is nonetheless important to me. I do resent my parents for this, however ridiculously, and I find myself wishing I had a daughter right now so I could give her every LEGO and Tonka truck and baseball glove she ever wanted. I'd tell her every day that there are no Boy Things or Girl Things, there are just Things, and whatever makes her happiest, challenges her in the most exciting ways, those are the things she ought to have. Whatever tools she decided to build her life with, Tinkerbell nail polish or chemistry sets, those tools are the ones I'd give her.

I need to stop reading those articles. Apparently, they're just making me all restless and tense. (Who knew?) But also, also. I think I ought, as a gesture to the geeky little hardhat-wearing-wannabe kid that I was, I really, really ought to go out and buy myself an extravagant LEGO set. I'm a grownup now, after all. I control my own destiny. My baggage is mine to carry around; I might as well carry it my way.

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March 2012

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