Rainbow Loom: The Great Gender EqualizerYvonne Condes
Just ask my kids and they’ll tell you: I’m not the fun one. I’m not the parent they go to when they want us to give them candy, go to a drive-thru for burgers, or buy them a toy. When my boys said they wanted Rainbow Loom, though, I went out and bought it immediately.
If you’re not familiar, Rainbow Loom is a kit with little rubber bands that come in a variety of colors to make bracelets, like the “friendship bracelets” from the 80s. Rainbow Loom is THE toy for the holiday season. And as for the gender stereotype, I would have thought that it would be THE holiday toy for girls. But Rainbow Loom has caused my Minecraft-obsessed boys to put down their controllers and sit quietly making jewelry. And so do many of their male friends.
They’re not the only ones. There have been articles on Time.com and in the Chicago Tribune talking about how Rainbow Loom isn’t just for girls. I’m shocked that I’ve become the kind of mom that would be shocked by something like that. My goal when my oldest son was born was to have a gender-neutral home where boys could play with dolls and girls could grow up to be football playing feminists.
Well, I ended up having 2 boys and the dolls didn’t take. I bought my oldest son a baby doll with a cradle when he was about 2-years-old. It was an anatomically correct boy doll with a bottle and a cute outfit. He didn’t like it and neither did his little brother who would use it as a projectile to hit his older brother. Then there was the Barbie I bought just in case. They weren’t interested. But she came in handy when their superhero Legos needed to rescue someone or, once again, they needed to chuck a hard object at one another. But the real heartbreaker came in preschool when another child made fun of my son for having a pink water bottle. He wouldn’t use it after that.
Now my boys not only make Rainbow Loom bracelets, but they sit quietly while they’re doing it. We live in a world of boys at our house where there’s little silence and even less sitting still. This sweet little craft has transformed our household and those of our friends (Though I hope by typing this the kids don’t suddenly decide they’re over it).
What I find most interesting about Rainbow Loom is that there’s no conversation about it. None of the parents or kids we know are telling the boys they shouldn’t play with it. I really hope that lasts and it’s not like the pink water bottle all over again.
I don’t know how long my boys’ infatuation with Rainbow Loom will last, but for right now, in our house, toys will be toys.
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