Cindy Gericke sees nothing wrong with her son wearing pink, but still worries about him out in the world.
I wait, stomach churning, fingers twisted in knots, wondering if he will make it through his first day of preschool. Of course, I do this in the restaurant play lands, public parks, and grocery stores as well. He has just turned five and I dread the first crushing of his ego that smashes his perfect world of limitless choices into shards of pigeon hole, boxed behaviors.
You see, my son loves pink. He loves the brightness, the energy, and the fact that his sister hates…hot pink. He selected the hot pink Lego shoes over the blue or green ones; school shopping found him tossing hot pink soccer shorts into my basket; he chooses the color for anything in which he has a choice: ice cream, finger paint, his first scooter, sunglasses, a garden shovel. He even insisted to his teacher that purple was merely a very dark, dark shade of pink. He is adamant and robust in his selection, without a single thought to the onlookers.
Oh, the lookers, gawkers, even the daring commenters. How they break my heart if not his own. Children whisper to their friends, “Look at that boy’s shoes!” They loudly tell their parents, “That boy painted his toe nails.” They place his jackets on wrong hooks or in lost and founds. Sometimes I feel the glare of judging mommies as they critique my lack of skill at raising a boy.
The truth is, I let him choose because he needs practice making decisions when consequences are not hazardous, he has a right to his opinion, and he makes me proud with his daring sense of individuality, even if naive. In all other ways, he is a typical boy: loves vehicles, construction sites, football, and any opportunity to get as filthy as possible, even if all in hot pink. I also stand by and sweat in anticipation for a day when he realizes that his choice is atypical, and scrutinized, and a reason to laugh or tease. He may outgrow his favorite color or he may always love pink and feel the pressure to make another choice: should he fly his pink flag proudly or keep to himself as he chooses blue, or black, or green?
As a parent, I am torn in two between wanting him to be strong in his unique gifts and preferences, and not wanting him to suffer the taunting kids so cruelly toss about. So far, he has yet to notice, and off we go again on a day full of work and play in pink shorts, matching shoes, and a trip around the block in his hot pink, electric Jeep.
photo courtesy of author
Find Cindy’s blog at http://shelleyblogdotcom.