Cooked for Christmas

You guys are going to absolutely hammer me for this post. I mean, you’re gonna tear me a new one and ridicule me through and through. And you’ll be completely justified in doing so. But I can’t help it.

The way Christmas works in the financially strapped Daddy Files household is as follows: We get Will one “big” present and a few little things. The rest of the gifts are supplied (in abundance) by family members and friends who are WAY too kind when it comes to buying things for Will. In the past, his gifts from us have been really awesome. Big Tonka trucks and a work bench with tons of tools. Very fun, very cool and very manly.

When it came time to choose his gift this year, well, there wasn’t actually much “choice” involved. At least on my part.

MJ just came home one day and declared that she found THE PERFECT present for Will. She was beyond excited and so proud of herself for finding it. So I asked what it was. But instead of telling me, she balked a little and started to talk around it. To preface it with “Well Will already has trucks and trains and stuff like that…” I should’ve known, right then and there, I was in for trouble. After prompting her to just tell me already she showed me the picture of Will’s Christmas gift.

Yup. A toy kitchen. Complete with a burner, coffeemaker, frying pan, plates and dishes. A complete kitchen set. For my son. I didn’t even have time to think of a good way to react because my delayed response and the look on my face must’ve given me away immediately. That put MJ on the defensive, which is never a good thing for me.

“What’s wrong? You don’t think he’ll like it?” MJ asked.

“I…uhh…well, it’s just that…it’s a kitchen. For our son.”

Tactical error on my part.

MJ must’ve anticipated this type of response from me because she had all of her ducks in a row. She told me that Will loves to cook with her in the kitchen, which is true. She told me the culinary arts are not simply for women and some of the best cooks in the world are men, which is true. And she told me I routinely make a point on this blog to tear down nonsensical stereotypes and challenge gender stereotypes, so I shouldn’t have a problem with this or else I’d be a hypocrite. Which — damn her to hell — is true.

She’s right. She’s 100% right. Will loves to cook and he should know how to cook. He’d love this as a present. And I, as an enlightened father who speaks out in the name of fairness and equality, should embrace this gift. I know this. And the rational, intelligent part of my brain accepts this as truth.

Unfortunately, the neanderthal strain of prehistoric male DNA is using a megaphone to shout “YOU CAN’T GIVE YOUR SON A KITCHEN SET!!!!”

I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I can’t help it. Girls get kitchen sets and dolls, while boys get G.I. Joes, toy tools and trucks. As a dad I’m fine with responding to Will saying “Hey Dad, wanna play trucks.”¬† But entertaining the thought of “Hey Dad, wanna play with my pastry cutter?” not only gives me pause, it gives me the willies.

Which is ridiculous because I want Will to be able to cook. Not only will it make him self-sufficient, but it never hurts to know your way around a kitchen to improve your luck with the ladies. But it shames me to admit the first thing that crossed my mind was that giving him a kitchen set for Christmas may deter him from even being interested in the ladies.

Like I said, that’s a completely ignorant and stupid thought. Like a kitchen set could actually influence my son’s sexual orientation. And even if my son was gay, so what? I’d still love and support him the same as always. So what’s my problem?

I don’t actually know the answer.

I know my wife is right and this is a great gift for Will. I know I’m being a hypocritical idiot. And yet every time I look at that kitchen set (which I actually put together myself if you can believe it) I cringe. it’s in the same league as a Barbie or pink socks. I’m not sure if it’s age-old gender stereotypes holding me back or my own archaic ideas about how these things should work, but I can’t deny I’m bothered by it.

But I better get over it quick because as any married guy know, the wife gets what the wife wants. And that means my masculine, future professional athlete of a son is going to wake up tomorrow, shriek with joy at his new kitchen and then ask me if I want to help him whisk.

I’m so cooked.

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26 thoughts on “Cooked for Christmas

  1. When I bought my son a play kitchen, my husband was just as apprehensive as you. He couldn’t believe that I was buying our son a kitchen. I had to explain to him that all kids love to play with the kitchen. If we had a playdate with a kid who had the kitchen, all of the kids would fight over it. My husband got over whatever issues he had. Seriously, it is a great toy. It really promotes pretend play. My boys are now 8 & 4 and they both play with it.
    (And I put the kitchen together all by myself – yay me!)

  2. You aren’t cooked, just predisposed to gender norms and your son will grow up in a world less bound by them.

  3. I picked up a second hand kitchen set for my twin boys just before they turned 2. They had a basic tool table, but didn’t really know what to do with it. I realized that since they had never seen tools in use, they didn’t know what to do with them. They knew exactly what to do in the kitchen because they see me & my husband there all the time. They also liked climbing on it and knocking it over!
    I sold it recently since we needed the space for a train table. They both prefer action/movement toys over others now.
    M has Batman & Robin and asked for Aquaman and Wonder Woman for Christmas. (Thanks to Superfriends dvds) Unfortunately we have not been able to find a Wonder Woman action figure. ;)

  4. We bought my daughter that same kitchen set for her birthday. Guess who plays with it the most? Our seven year old son. Our daughter at this point just wants to play whatever her brother is playing with so she will show interest, but that brings me more to this point: kids at that age want to copy their parents. So let Will cook with MJ, in his own lil kitchen, and shit, even get in their and learn to cook yourself ;)
    I don’t think any of us will rip you a new arsehole though I do have to say when I first saw your blog post I gasped “what the Daddy Files?!” The fact you would immediately open your thoughts and feeling into discussion just shows how open you are and willing and wanting to break from these patriarch induced gender roles.

  5. Charlie is getting that exact set this year, and I know of 4 other little boys getting the same thing. I wanted to get him one last year and Rick put up such a stink and repeatedly called it gay (even though he does most of the cooking). This year, when he saw how much Charlie loved it, he agreed.

    Sack up, get over the stereotypes. They’re 2, they don’t know what a stereotype is.

  6. Just think of the hot girl he brings home because he cooked her a kick ass breakfast. And it was all because of the play kitchen he got for Christmas when he was a little boy. He’ll be thanking you one day!

  7. My 2 year old son wants one too! Unfortunately, I didn’t get him one because of space constraints. Just get him some “manly” play food to cook like burgers and ribs. It might make you feel a little better. However, I completely agree with you saying that your feelings are completely archaic.

  8. This exact set is going to be under the tree tomorrow from “Santa” for Zachary. It wasn’t Frank who made the biggest stink about him getting a kitchen – it was Frank’s dad. So Will is not going to be the only kitchen-owning toddler this Christmas ;-)

  9. You think that your not sexist but I hate to break it to you, you are. You don’t want your son to have a play kitchen (which by the way, is the least girly little kid kitchen I’ve ever seen) and you tweet that no one cares about Uconn womens basketball.

    Hate to break it to you, but you are. Stop being such an asshole and open your mind.

  10. To chime in with everyone else’s sentiment on the matter – He’ll love it. THAT is what matters.

    …My own experience…We got my daughter a PINK FRILLY play kitchen set for Christmas last year. My 8 year old son plays with it….of course if you ask him directly about it he’ll try to cover it up by saying he’s playing with his sister, who is generally in another part of the house, but nonetheless. All kids should have a play kitchen.

  11. Anonymous: I am sexist on certain issues. Obviously I never claimed otherwise. It’s fine if you want to call me sexist, but at least have the guts not to post anonymously you coward. If you can’t attach your name to something then your opinion is worthless.

    And I don’t care if you label me sexist on the women’s basketball issue, I stand by it. Women’s basketball is boring as fuck. And no one outside of Conn. gives a shit about their streak. I guess I’d rather be an asshole than an anonymous Internet troll with an “open mind.” Asswipe.

  12. Oh Dino…

    When I beat you this Sunday to win the Fantasy Football title and the $500 that comes along with it, I’m buying little Abby a baby stripper outfit. Because we all know she’s headed for the pole. And then, when she and Will are both older, I’m gonna sic him on her and my dominance over you will be complete.

  13. I should have let your mother dress you up in that sailor suit and take a picture. But I didn’t – and this is the thanks I get? :)

    Will is going to love it.

  14. I hope Will and MJ can help you get over your feelings of “Boys wear blue…or they turn out gay!” This issue has come up several times in your blog, and I do hope that you let your son be whomever he wants to be without imposing your own mildly prejudiced viewpoint on him. Chill out, dad! Will’s friends are growing up in a world that’s less prejudiced to the gender binary and towards homophobia.

  15. Melissa: To be fair, its not “boys wear blue or they turn gay.” It’s boys wear blue because blue is a boy’s color. That’s all.

    Like anyone else, I have my shortcomings & this is one of them. However, it’d only be a problem if I said “No way is my son getting a kitchen!” But that’s not the case. I’m giving him the kitchen bc I know he’ll like it, even though it irks me a tad. At least I’m honest about it.

    My son can be whatever he wants to be, with the exception of a Yankees fan, and I’ll always love him.

  16. I know how you’re feeling. I grew up in a very sexist atmosphere and boys NEVER got kitchens for Christmas. But, it’s nice that your wife looked past all that nonsense and saw that your son likes cooking. He’ll probably really enjoy his gift, and yes, ask you to help.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  17. Other “girlie” things he would probably love: A baby doll set, complete with stroller; a shopping cart with pretend food inside; a cooking set to go with that kitchen. A good compromise might be a pretend barbecue set. They sell those, too, probably for dads like you :)

  18. I was just going to suggest that same thing Rebecca! They have little outdoor grill sets, and they are awesome!

    And I have a 3 1/2 year old son who LOVES to play with our kitchenette, and has since he was big enough to walk. :)

  19. I have women frieds who do not cook at all. Their husbands do all the cooking! How wonderful is that? I will admit, it makes me jealous.

  20. I had to compromise with Bobby on this one too. He does a lot of the cooking and is much better at it than I, although I CAN cook a good meal it’s usually with two kids hanging on my legs and work piling up and while he cooks I let him have the space he needs to create his masterpiece.

    I also had my reservations about a toy kitchen. We got him a “masculine” looking one from target. Looked more like a metrosexual or maybe a “bachelor” pad type kitchen. My daughter now has it in her room and enjoys it MUCH more than David ever did. But the reason that it’s so great is that Will is young and innocent enough to not give a care about it..I mean how much crap is he going to have to put up with anyway from friends and such.

    In a PERFECT world, no one would have stereo types or be “sexist” but of course every thing that have a certain percentage of association is going to end up being a “Stereo-type”.

    My upbringing was boys wear blue and play with trucks, girls wear pink and play with babies…I say good for M.J. for getting this product for your son for you to see and good for you for being able to look past your own stereo-types. Embrace this time with your son before he decides what is appropriate for him even against your wishes!

    Just wait until he brings home the friends that are Steeler fans, or friends that want to influence him to join the math team…or any other “stereo-type” that you didn’t like as a kid…you’ll see what is best for him and makes him happy and you’ll get over it…

  21. I know the answer. It’s your own insecurities about MJ wearing the pants in your household, making more money than you while you are in charge of the bulk of the housewifely duties.

    You have no reason to fear your sons future manliness. MJ is providing a stellar example for him to follow.

    Love ya! :)

  22. You’re not alone Aaron. My husband had a very similar mind set…that a boy just shouldn’t have a kitchen. I made several of the same comments that MJ did in regards to why he should simply because I thought he was be ridiculous. Of course, the big kicker was when his mom said ‘you had a kitchen set when you were little’…OH SO BUSTED! But you know my son has trucks and trains and all the ‘boy’ stuff (he just received a tool bench for Christmas along with a guitar, a keyboard and a drum) and he loves his kitchen and his grill, which he got in the summer for his birthday, equally. I don’t feel that he’s lost his manliness at all by ‘cooking’. I think he’ll be a very well-rounded individual when he gets older.

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