C and friend proudly display their bear buddies Gordon and Hugo in their Oscar-worthy attire

Where does gender come from? And is it any indication of a more balanced gender perspective if your son and his best pal choose a pair of attractive dresses for their male-named bears? None of the (five) boys and a few of the girls in the Build-a-Bear birthday party we went to this afternoon thought boys choosing a dress for their bear was remarkable. A number of other girls were disturbed and very upset by it. I found it interesting that it was among the girls that a prescriptive perspective emerged.

“You can’t have a dress for your bear, take it off!”

“You’re not allowed to have that dress. Dresses are not for boys.”

Right down to the ‘cross dressing’ bears not being allowed to participate in an impromptu game of follow the leader. I was impressed by C’s cool. He came over and said, “Those friends are not being nice to me. They are saying bad words and teasing me. They won’t let me play with them! That’s not nice.”

I agreed, and remarked that those were not the only friends at the party. Within  minutes and alternate conga line of follow the leader had formed and in the end, all bears everywhere came together and played together.

Instances of sociological interest aside, the party was wonderful fun, and as  Build-a-Bear neophyte, I was impressed by the experience. In brief, this involves selecting a bear (other animals also available), name it, pop a heart with a wish inside it, use the cool fluff machine to fill the bear (fascinating stuff!), close it up and clean and clothe your bear.

Speaking of clothing, I had promised C an additional outfit for his bear before the party. He selected a pair of pink shoes to complement the dress, and a Harley Davidson biker bear outfit with boots. Neither at my suggestion or influence. (Watch this space for future biker bear appearances…)

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