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Who knew toy kitchens would prompt so many stories?

Dear Readers: A recent question from “Wondering Parents” raised the topic of giving “gender stereotypical” toys to children. (Wondering Parents were admonished for wanting to give a toy kitchen set to their daughter for Christmas.)

This question – and my response – brought on a huge response from readers reminiscing about and praising the qualities of toy kitchens. (Who knew?)

On this day when so many children are exploring the outer limits of their own capacities for joyful play, here is a sampling of those responses.

Dear Amy: More than 30 years ago, our son wanted a toy kitchen for Christmas. My husband was against it (he thought it was a “girl toy”).

Coincidentally, a grocery store was giving a toy kitchen away. My son won it!

He played with that kitchen for years. He is now an incredible chef and loves his craft.

Let children play!

– Colleen

Dear Amy: I have two boys – ages 6 and 3 – who show every sign of loving gender-typical toys like cars and trucks. They also love the toy kitchen we bought three years ago.

They see both mom and dad cooking meals and contributing to the house, and want to do the same.

We continue to enjoy cups of fake coffee and wooden pizza!

– Happy Parents

Dear Amy: My two oldest children are a daughter (39) and a son (37). When my daughter was 3 and my son was just under 2, we got my daughter a kitchen set for Christmas.

It was too big to wrap, so we left it out. The fake food and pots/pans/dishes were wrapped and under the tree.

As soon as the kids got up, my son started playing with it. He came into the kitchen and got a pot and some canned food to play with. He had no interest in opening any of his own gifts.

A few months later, my daughter pushed the kitchen set into his room. Numerous times over the years he put dinner on the table for the family, and is a much better cook than his sister.

Dear Amy: Our neighbors have two kids, a girl and a boy, six months apart in age (one was adopted at birth).

The little girl is a wild child in the best way – she plays with insects, snakes, rocks etc. She is an outdoorsy person.

The little boy plays with dolls and kitchen things.

When he was asked about this, he said, “I’m playing house, and I’m the dad!”

So much for gender stereotyping!

– Proud Neighbor

Dear Amy: When I was 3, my constant companion was a doll named Karen Marie, the name I would have been given if I’d been born a girl.

Ours was a traditional Idaho family: Mom was a housewife, and Dad was a railroader and farmer.

I evolved to play with “boy toys” but my brother and I were very happy when he accidentally received a child’s cookbook at a school gift exchange.

We enjoyed making dishes from it for years (think animal cracker salad).

I no longer carry a doll, but still do all the family cooking,

– Old Wood Pile

Dear Amy: My dad built a toy kitchen for use in our basement playroom.

All of us played with it extensively, and all of us, including my brother, are excellent cooks and enjoy cooking.

I kept that toy kitchen, and now my granddaughter and grandson play with it. My daughter has made an exchangeable top that turns the kitchen into a doctor’s office.

– Bases Covered

Dear Amy: As a former preschool teacher with 19 years teaching adorable 3-year-olds, I’d like to weigh in.

Children will play with whatever interests them. Children thrive when given the opportunity to play freely with whatever toys are available.

One year, we had an amazing child who every day put on a furry dog costume. No matter how hot, he put that costume on. When he was older, he would always dress up for Halloween in the most amazing costumes that he created himself.

Today, he is a student at one of the top engineering colleges in the country.

Playing with toys does not turn a child into something they’re not (just as wearing that dog costume did not turn my former student into a dog!).

Let them play, and please: Turn off those screens!

– Devoted Teacher

Dear Teacher: Happy holidays to all of the parents feasting on imaginary coffee and wooden pizza today, and to all of the creative and playful children “cooking” for them.

You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

Originally Appeared Here

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Early Bird