My Love/Hate Relationship With Ikea & Party City

I can’t believe this, but PJ’s birthday is just one week away! He is keeping me busy for sure, with crawling all over and now pulling himself up to stand and walking his way around everything he can. Once he figures out that running gets him places faster than crawling, I will be in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

We went out to get the supplies for his birthday party today. It is, of COURSE, a Mickey Mouse theme. I would love to say that it’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and I’m trying my best to make it so, but…well, you’ll see. First, if you don’t run in the toddler set and I lost you earlier, stick with me – it’s not just about a mouse, I promise. It’s about something that bugs me every single time I go to the store for baby supplies.

This is what the Clubhouse gang looks like on TV (and by the way, the link goes to another blogger who asks the tough questions about the show – one of which I can sadly answer and tell him that Pete is a cat. I know.):

Image

 

Anyway, my point is that Minnie and Daisy (and Clarabelle when she is in the scene) are part of the group. They’re not some strange, separate species of ::gasp:: GIRL ::pearl clutch:: that exist on a separate planet of pink and purple hearts and flowers. Yes, they like bows and dancing and ribbons, but they’re just as likely to climb a mountain or ride a train or cross the desert as the guys are. PJ’s two favorite characters here are Mickey and Daisy. He claps when they come on the screen, he laughs when they talk, and he pays more attention to stories they are in.

So when I go to Party City to get birthday party supplies, I had this crazy naive thought that there would be a young kids’ section where I could find the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse decorations. Chalk that up to first-time-mom naivete. There are actually TWO Mickey Mouse Clubhouse sections – one for boys, and one for girls. Outside of TV, the gang looks like this:

Image

 

 

 

Image

 

IT’S LIKE THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW EACH OTHER ANYMORE.

And what’s worse, they don’t even want to know each other anymore. Look, I’m a marketer. I get the idea of splitting characters up to increase your overall ticket, and I get that some people really only do want one or the other because that is what their kid is obsessed with. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it bothers me that these characters that are good friends, and help each other solve problems in every show, aren’t welcome at each other’s parties.

I did buy a couple of items from the Minnie/Daisy collection for their fans (including my son!) but my original idea to do half and half went out the window when I saw them all side by side. They just don’t work together. And that makes me a little mad, because it’s not just a Party City problem. It’s an (almost) everywhere they sell things for kids problem. Every time I shop, I am glad that I had a boy first, because if I ever have a girl in the future I can feel good that not all of her toys will be from the Pepto Bismol collection.

The only place I currently don’t feel this way is Ikea. Sure, you can get pink toys there – and again, nothing wrong with that. It’s a pretty, happy color and I adore it in moderation. But there are no girls’ aisles and boys’ aisles. There are just TOYS. The pink princess puppet is on the same shelf as the green dragon and brown owl. And the wooden play kitchen and wooden play workbench are part of the same display, both in nice neutral color schemes. 

So I can’t help but ask myself WHY this is such a rarity these days? WHY are girls being relegated to their own little pink and purple planet where they can be anything they want to be, as long as it’s pretty – and did we mention pink? Even Goldiblox, which I love the idea of, is fighting gender stereotypes by teaching girls engineering skills to…wait for it…build pink and purple princess castles. Whomp whomp. It makes me seriously ANGRY to see the same product on a shelf in a green/blue/red/whatever version…and a pink and purple version next to it. I won’t buy either version for my kid, or as a present for anyone else’s kid.

I know it’s only going to get worse as we move along, and that someday there will be the dreaded “But that’s for GIRLS, ewww!” conversation about something. But shame on you, Party City, for making “Boys are from Mars, Girls are from Venus” a part of his first birthday. How about trying a revolutionary idea, and making some things that any kid can enjoy? Take a trip to Ikea and see how it’s done, I dare you.