Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sociology in Hamleys

I thought it would be nice to buy something for my nephew from Hamleys. It was my first visit to that august London institution, and I have to confess that I was disappointed. It was also quite an intimidating experience ... so many people, noise, objects, crowds, a slightly tacky feel. I had expected it to have more of a Harrods or Fortnum and Mason's feel ...

Anyway, this all resulted in me thinking about the stereotypes that society has (ie us, ie me) of boys and girls. Ground floor ... lots of cuddly toys, very nice, gender neutral, I quite liked the colourful parrot hand puppet ... First floor, baby stuff and preschool colourful and noisy plastic ... Second floor ... oh, maybe that was the baby stuff, I wasn't really paying much attention to which floor it was ... third floor was pink, the girls' floor ... lots of nice arty crafty let's make cards and jewellery stuff ... fourth floor was called "hobbies" and I think had trains and cars and stuff (aha, trains, that's something that my nephew might like when he's older, I start to think) ... I begin to realise I am thinking completely stereotypically about boys at this point ... Then the top floor is the boys' floor ... it was about half the size of the other floors, and about one third of that space was taken up with a cafe. There were Power Rangers, cars, something to do with wrestling and - aha! I've got it! - Doctor Who stuff. Yes, I love Doctor Who, maybe N will love it too!

You see, our family has had very few boys, so we are all more used to girls, and I suppose I had some sort of idea in my head about the nice story telling, baking, dressing up as a princess activities that I could do with my little neice. However, she is a he, as mostly everybody else expected, and I - completely excited and madly in love! - have been a bit flummoxed about what to do with a boy! Anyway, as I started feeling much more comfortable with boy stuff while wandering around Hamleys - football, music, Doctor Who, cars, trains, trucks - I thought, poor wee N, he's only two and a half weeks old, he's an individual, he can do whatever he wants and be whoever he wants, and already here I am, putting him in a "boy" box.

Which may all support the idea that gender identity is a social construct rather than a genetic, "natural" one. I haven't really studied much sociology or pediatrics or whatever, so I don't really have much of interest to say in the matter, but I found it all quite curious as I was there.

And the present? Well, in the end there was nothing particularly appealing (unless you count the Dalek Electronic Voice Changer Mask, but I think at 17 days N could probably sit inside it rather than wear it and it might be rather uncomfortable for that), and I think my nephew would probably rather have a cuddle than yet another "thing", and he has quite enough cuddly toys to be getting on with for now since I think it's best to have one or two that you really love and hold on to rather than loads that you don't remember, so in the end I walked away empty handed. Which is probably quite the best option. But full of interest to know what he will eventually be interested in ...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm an auntie!

My sister had her baby yesterday! How exciting! Can't wait to see him, my baby nephew!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy New Year ...

So much has happened since I last left a message ...

We had a very packed Christmas holiday back with my family in Scotland. Here is a quick taster of what we got up to:

Tuesday 23 December

We drove 500 miles north. Arrived fairly late.

Wednesday 24 December

Got my hair cut and dyed, and bought a new outfit for Christmas. Delighted to get dress and shoes heavily reduced in sales. Went to the midnight Carol Singing and Watchnight Service, where I met up with an old school friends that I always swap presents with during this service.

Thursday 25 December

Christmas Day! Woke up earlier than necessary, but eventually got up anyway. Opened lots of lovely presents, including some great Covent Garden Sanctuary Spa stuff from H, a lasagne dish from S, and much needed clothes (and one of the books I asked for, Double Cross by Malorie Blackman) from M&D. We then went to my sister's for Christmas Dinner, made by her MIL. Very nice. It was really good to see S, especially as she is very pregnant, with a big bump, and I hadn't seen her for months, so it was very exciting! We ended the evening playing one of those fun brain games. Cranium.

Friday 26 December

It is a family tradition that we go to the home of a family friend on the morning of Boxing Day, where we have delicious vol-au-vents and sausage rolls, and today was no exception. In the afternoon, another old school friend came down with his sister, wife and daughter to see us. We last saw the family when their daughter was about a day or two old, and she is now about 18 months! Very sweet.

Saturday 27 December

S came through, and while M&D took Gran home, S and I went shopping for baby things. I also used some of the time to plan the Hogmanay party.

Sunday 28 December

I have to confess that I slept in, so no church this morning. However, once up, H and I visited a friend of his who was visiting his parents with his family. They live on a fairly nearby farm, and the scenery was amazing. Only the two men knew each other, but what a lovely family. We all got on well and it was a fun afternoon. He has three young boys, who were very friendly and polite. We drove home, decided to cook spaghetti bolognese for dinner, which we shared with a third old school friend of mine who came by. It's been a great holiday for catching up with old friends!

Monday 29 December

We drove through to Edinburgh to visit my other grandparents, and on the way dropped off to see my cousin who had a baby last year that we hadn't seen yet. That was a treat as well. She is very cute too. Then on to G&G's, picked up Mum's auntie, then popped by IKEA to collect some new baby furniture for S.

Tuesday 30 December

Dad and I went to my sister's with the furniture, where we managed to put up a chest of drawers and a cot. The wardrobe will have to wait for later. Dad went home when it was still light and I stayed with S, where we organised the new nursery. How exciting! Lots of little baby grows, hats and mittens. Can't wait to be an auntie!

Wednesday 31 December

This day was spent getting ready for the Hogmanay Party that we were hosting. This included buying costumes, ribbons, scarves etc, preparing all the quizzes and games for the evening, and getting all the food ready. Everyone mucked in, and I was still getting dressed when the guests arrived. We had a fun evening with a global theme. Lots of pitta breads, hummous, stews, rice, moussaka, stew, fruit salad and cranachan. Delicious. The best game was the Mummy game, where three people were wrapped up in toilet roll. New Year was celebrated throughout the evening, as different time lines were crossed, and with champagne at midnight. Everyone left around 3.30am.

Thursday 1 January 2009

We had a well deserved lie-in, but not for too long, before Auntie, Mum and I decided to go for a New Year walk up the hill. It was cold, so we wrapped up well, and wandered along a mile long circular route among the trees. Great. Then, in the afternoon, some friends of ours who have two young boys, came by. Again, we hadn't seen them for a couple of years, and how they have all grown! Lovely to see them again. We took loads of photos, and it was nice to catch up with the news.

Friday 2 January

Our family friend that we visit on Boxing Day traditionally comes to us on the second, and once again this year was no exception. Mum makes nice sausage rolls and rolls with salmon and egg, followed by tasty homemade mars bar cake and meringues. Delicious! In the afternoon my auntie and uncle brought my grandparents round for dinner. We had a lovely afternoon, which included S and I playing some traditional Scottish music, me on the fiddle, her on the guitar. Great afternoon and evening.

Saturday 3 January

H and I drove south, 500 miles, in lovely weather and on quiet roads.

Sunday 4 January

I got up, began to drive to work, and wrote off the car. So here we are. 2009.