One of our best gay-male-friends (I'll call him Male-Role-Model #1 or MRM1 for short) lives vicariously through Maggie.
And she adores him. Whenever we are all together (MRM1 is in a 14 year relationship with Male-Role-Model#2) he devotes all of his attention to her. They play Barbies together and he often paints her toenails the color of her choice.
For his birthday last year we even gave him a Barbie Townhouse. (MRM2 frantically worried about where to store the monstrosity. The townhouse, in all of its pink plastic glory, was an eyesore in their fastidious apartment with its Room and Board attitude. It came as no surprise to us, the next time we were over and Maggie requested some Townhouse playtime, that MRM1 was gone for several conspicuous minutes in the process of fetching it from some dark, far-away cupboard, deep in their guest-room closet).
Anyway, MRM1 called the other night to report his recent hilarious Maggie observations after an evening spent together as BioMom and I were otherwise occupied with our sordid careers.
MRM1: She actually said: "When Mom goes maybe we can have some ice cream action"! Can you believe that? Ice cream action!
(Italics in original.)
MRM1: Then, when I was putting her to bed, I said to her "Well, I guess I'll have to get you something for Christmas. What do you want?' And she said: "A Barbie iPod!" Can you believe that? A Barbie iPod? If I can't buy a Barbie iPod, I'll figure out how to make a Barbie iPod. With stickers or something.
He was joking of course. Not about the Barbies or the stickers, but about a four-year-old asking for a $400 gift.
Not that he didn't yearn to give it to her. MRM1 has an addictive penchant for technology. That and an addiction to pleasing Maggie.
In today's New York Times article "Babes in a Grown-up Toyland" author Benedict Carey discusses how companies are marketing video games and iPods toward increasingly young consumers.
"A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that half of all 4- to 6-year olds have played video games, a quarter of them regularly. Game makers are aggressively marketing to children as young as 3, while researchers report what parents already know: that children as young as 8 and 9 are asking for adult toys, like cellphones and iPods, rather than stuffed animals or toy trucks."
The jury is out on the long-term effects of technology in kids toys. One one hand some researchers argue that kids do not develop strong imaginations without their dolls and Erector sets (clearly those researchers haven't seen the stuff I've seen on the effects of Barbie's dimensions on young girl's psyches).
Young children who have active imaginary lives tend to be adept reasoning about unknown situations and taking on another's perspective, studies suggest. 'I think there are deep continuities between the functioning of the imagination in early childhood and its functioning later,' Dr. Paul L. Harris, a psychologist at Harvard and author of 'The Work of the Imagination,' wrote in an e-mail.
On the other hand, such toys could help kids in their future endeavors. Technology is a part of nearly any career. As I write this, BioMom and I are literally sitting next to each other, completely absorbed in our respective laptops.
Pathetic, I know.
In any case, BioMom has already put the kibosh on getting a game cube for Christmas. Maggie couldn't care less. Activating her imagination is not on my 'to-do' list as she is virtually always in imaginary land.
Its me who mourns the game cube. I long for those days of yore with my quarters stacked up on the Donkey Kong game, waiting for my chance at breaking into the top three high scores. (Thanks to A Random Walk for the link).