Chimp study reveals no-brainer

At breakfast this morning, I enjoyed the NY Times Science section while Otto mostly ignored his yogurt and cream cheese-soaked bagel to make siren noises and push a Matchbox fire truck around his place mat.

Normally I wouldn’t give him a toy to play with at a meal, but he had on his biggest pair of cranky-pants so, ok, I offered the truck if he ate just a quarter of the bagel and stopped crying. Oh, who am I kidding; almost every breakfast involves some sort of bribe with trucks, trains, or Bob the Builder.

Anyway, while he rumbled, steered, and fiddled with the truck’s ladder, I read that “young female chimpanzees like to play with sticks as if they were dolls.”

My heart swooned as I imagined a little miss chimp caring for her newborn stick, feeding it leaves, cradling it to sleep.

The article went on to quote one of the study’s authors saying all this adorable monkey business tells us maybe societal stereotypes don’t dictate the toys boys and girls prefer.

This tells me, one of the study’s authors does not have children.

I could give two poops about front-end loaders, skid steers, or excavators (diggers) and the only reason I know the names of these machines and the combine harvester, backhoe, and scraper is because my son insists on reading about, playing with, staring at, and looking for “krucks.”

In fact, I unwittingly know that this morning he was handling a fire truck and not a fire engine.

Of course he plays with more than trucks, and because we are modern, liberal parents, and maybe because we are queer, we offer and encourage play with a wide range of toys and objects. He likes to sweep (with a pink broom, because apparently Mattel thinks only girls do the cleaning), push his baby doll in a (again and of course, pink) stroller, and care for a handful of stuffed animals.

But trucks? They are his favorite, and he didn’t get that from his two moms or any “societal stereotypes,” that’s fo sho.

After breakfast, the tears returned, to be assuaged only by clutching “chief” – the Matchbox fire chief’s truck. Yes, he could take it with him. And ok, the yellow convertible, and airport fire truck, too. After wrestling Mr. Crabby into his coat, and hat, and hat again, I cheered him into the car with my standard we-need-to-get-out-of-the-house line: “Hey! Let’s go look for buses!”


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