Stereotypes and Strawberry Shortcake

By Contributing Author Sarah Holland of Salt & Nectar

There are certain things I thought I would never get to experience when I learned (in the most unexpected way possible) that I was having a boy. I cried for hours as my dreams of ballet recitals, tea parties, and passing down beloved toys faded into the mist.

My son hasn’t taken up ballet but I’ve recently been reminded that my assumptions (and stereotypes) about what toys he would like, and therefore what experiences we would share, were all my own.

And it’s all thanks to Strawberry Shortcake.

Well, Strawberry Shortcake and Netflix. My son often watches the iPad during nap/rest time. For months, it’s been nothing but PBS Kids all the time but recently I’ve noticed he’ll drift to the occasional Yo Gabba Gabba or Leap Frog video. Imagine how my heart leapt with glee when I noticed a very familiar face (and bonnet) bedecking our Recently Watched list.

There was little miss Strawberry Shortcake. (Not the new made-over Strawberry…FOR SHAME!) Then Griffin began to talk of Strawberry and her friends often and with affection. When I was looking for orange blossom water for a popsicle recipe, he about shouted with a smile, “Orange Blossom like on Strawberry Shortcake!?!”

I suddenly realized that it was my own sad stereotypes (stereotypes I thought I didn’t ascribe to) that kept me from introducing things I had loved as a child to Griffin. It would never had occurred to me show him Strawberry Shortcake because it never occurred to me he would have liked it. Now, I see I was missing out not because he was a boy but because I was deciding what he would like based solely on that fact. Well, no more.

The best moment came when I was sorting through a box of my old papers and mementos from elementary school. Griffin was already complete fascinated by my childhood drawings and art projects but when I came upon a stack of old birthday cards, I knew I’d found something that would send him from interested to delighted.

There in the stack was a birthday card to my four-year-old self (merely a year older than my son) with a huge picture of none other than Strawberry Shortcake.

He loved it immediately and claimed it as his own. And the moment I thought I would never have – the moment of sharing something I loved as a child with my own child – was just as sweet as I thought it would be. Sweet as strawberry shortcake.

 

About the Author: Sarah Stewart Holland lives in Paducah, KY, with her husband Nicholas and two sons Griffin and Amos. Her family is at the center of her every thought when she isn’t distracted by the class she teaches at the local community college, her awesome gig at Paducah Life Magazine, or planning her next over-the-top dinner party. Sarah also writes about her passion for her home state over at Her Kentucky and her essays have been featured on Babble and BlogHer. In her spare time (ha!), she loves to knit and watch British period pieces and generally behave like she is 80 years old. You can follow Sarah on Twitter or see what crafty project she’s planning next on Pinterest.