Little Boys Like To Pretend To Cook

November 18th, was my little Mayhem’s fifth birthday.  I am pleased to report that he got exactly what he wanted for presents: new karate gloves and toy cookware.  Mayhem, much like his older brother, has always been fascinated with cooking. He is always quick to offer his help, and has quite the picky discerning palate. Below you will find a picture of Mayhem’s current prep area.

This past weekend he wrote his Christmas list and right at the top of the list was a new kitchen to go with his pots and pans, followed by more toy food and a microwave. That’s right, my boy wants an operating kitchen so that he can make as many fancy meals as his imagination will allow.  So far I have been served countless cups of tea, along with eggs and french toast.  In his mind, this collection of toys is the restaurant that he plans to own when he grows up.

The unhusband and I have begun to think about our Xmas shopping and high on the list is a kitchen for our little jr chef.  The first store that I checked was Toy R Us.  Considering that the ability to cook is a necessary skill to be able to survive unless one wants to eat at a restaurant for every meal is it really wise to place toy kitchens in the girls section.  Oh, I get it, cooking is domestic duty when it is done for subsistence so of course it falls under the category of girls toy.

Look how nice and pink it is – of course it’s a girls toy.  It symbolizes domestic labour and it’s pink, my estrogen levels are just soaring looking at it.  Isn’t great that we can teach little girls such a valuable lesson while encouraging little boys that cooking is a skill that they don’t need to learn because when they grow up they will find a little Betty Crocker just dying to cook, clean and serve.

Anyone who has watched five year olds at play will tell you that given the chance, they will explore the gender roles we have clearly defined.  Boys will play mommy and girls will pretend to be construction workers.  It is adults who give them limitations and guide them to specific forms of play specifically designed to cement social ideas of what constitutes male or female.

When Mayhem wakes up Christmas morning, he is going to find the kitchen he so desperately wants, because his father and I believe in letting our children explore this world and their options with full vigor. I know that his main concern will not be what section of the store I bought it in, or even the colour, but whether or not it has all of the appliances he feels he needs to play Mario Batali or heaven help me Gordon Ramsey (yes, they love Hells Kitchen). Whether or not he grows up to own the restaurant that he dreams about today, his father and I will ensure that he understands that cooking is not a job that should be dictated by gender, but that it can be an expression of love, even as it is an absolute necessity of survival.

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