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Zen Mama Wannabe » Blog Archive » When Pink Isn’t Cool
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When Pink Isn’t Cool

The picture is still in my mind – my blond-haired son proudly holding his pink balloon at the local county fair.  Of all the bright, vivacious colors in the Balloon Man’s massive bundle, he wanted the pink one.  Because after all, pink was his favorite color.  At the grown-up age of 6, he was neither aware nor concerned of the unspoken 4-word rule all most kids know to follow: pink is for girls.

It didn’t matter to him that in the kid world, pink basically equaled Princess.  That generally speaking, girls wore pink and boys wore blue.  That his baby sister’s bedroom walls were painted a soft, pale, powder pink while his were a soothing, deeper shade of Costa Rica blue.  Or, that his Kindergarten buddies were choosing green and red and blue as their favorite colors.  My son liked pink.

When he was in preschool, no one thought anything of it.  Around age 5, my husband began to get a little concerned.  By 6 years old, it made most adults raise their eyebrows in that “Oh REALLY??” sort of way.

I looked at it differently.  I was secretly proud that he was not succumbing to peer pressure.  He was choosing what he liked just for that reason – because HE liked it.  Shouldn’t your favorite color be your own personal decision?  Oh sure, naturally…as long as you pick the right one.  Was there really a “wrong” color for a child to pick?  Apparently so.

Interestingly, the other boys in his class were not caught up in the commotion of it all.  On one assignment, his Kindergarten teacher told me, the children had to fill in this graph with their favorite color.  She watched in astonishment as nearly every little boy in his group switched over to pink after my son used it.  Who knew, she joked with me, there was such a love for pink?!

The little girls were a different story.

I will never forget one night that summer when my kids and I took a trip back east.  As we lay there in bed, suffering from jet lag and trying to fall asleep, he confided in me about something that had happened months before.  Three girls (and as he named them, I could instantly hear their voices, their tone, their wiser-than-their-years mannerisms) making fun of him for liking the color pink.

“Mommy,” he said to me in this solemn little voice, “They were laughing about my favorite color being pink…but it wasn’t a nice laugh – like something is funny – you know??”

Oh yes, how I did know.  Only too well.  Here we go – it was starting already.  I was glad it was dark so he couldn’t see the moisture building in my eyes.  “What did you do?” I gently asked him.

“I told them – yep, I sure do like pink,” he said rather matter-of-factly.

“Good.” I told him.  Minutes passed by in silence, each of us no doubt thinking about what he just said and processing it in our own ways.  Finally I spoke out, “Buddy? You know, I am proud of you.”

I knew that would not be the first time girls would laugh at him.  Or the first time he would make an “un-cool” decision.  But I loved how he stuck to his guns, held strong to his own opinion and wasn’t swayed by these three Disney Channel wannabes.

He continued to like pink all the way through the middle of 1st grade, when he gradually, but without much ado, switched over to blue.  Dodger blue.  Now it is just my daughter who likes pink, but who will on occasion switch over to purple just because she knows it is my favorite color, or green because one of her best friends likes it.  No! I want to yell – stick with pink (or green, or purple, or whatever) – pick the one YOU like the best!

It starts so early, doesn’t it?  This pressure of conforming, of having to be like all the rest.  Once it begins, it quickly builds into this growing snowball of conventional wisdom.  Don’t think out of the box, or color outside the lines.  Remember, the sun is yellow, grass is green, sky is blue – stick with the status quo and you’ll be fine (i.e. fit in). I still don’t know who “they” are – but THEY sure do make a lot of rules.

I say to heck with “them!”  Go ahead, choose pink if you are a boy, or baseball (not softball) if you are a girl!  Isn’t this the message we want to teach our kids?  Mix it up the way YOU want to.  Have orange grass and a purple sun.  Be bold, not boring.

If you care to join my bandwagon, you know how to spot me:  this Zen Mama Wannabe will be wearing white in October, with a belt that doesn’t match my shoes, waving my pink flag high in the air.

On second thought, make that a purple flag — because for me, purple is color I prefer (and it dates all the way back to my *I Love Donny Osmond* days).  Yes, I’m sticking with what I like – no matter what “they” might think or say – just like a former 6 year old I know once did.   After all, I have been shown by example just how cool sticking up for what YOU believe in really is!

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(This blog entry is being entered in the September writing contest sponsored by Michelle at Scribbit, a mother of 4 living in Alaska.  I had the opportunity to hear her speak at the BlogHer08 conference and found the info she shared really helpful.  Her site offers many tips to bloggers — thank you!!! — as well as crafts and parenting insights and is definitely one to check out).

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7 Responses to “When Pink Isn’t Cool”

  1. Auntie Glo Says:
    September 9th, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Zen Mama!
    You were born to parent!! The world is absolutely BETTER with you in it!! and will be better with you children in it!! you were also born to write. Such a gifted woman!! Keep the opinions coming!!!

  2. Michelle at Scribbit Says:
    September 9th, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Long live Donny! 🙂 I still call that “Donny Osmond Purple” and my kids give me this funny look . . .

  3. callieandbatido Says:
    September 10th, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Bravo! Your son is one lucky litte guy.

  4. MVmom Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I wish our young ones would never have to feel pain or negativity. Unfortunately, that is not reality. Your son sounds like a very mature little guy, with a very nurturing mom. BRAVO! Let us all try to guide our children to handle the “rough spots” of life – peer pressure, bullying, etc.. with strength and courage. I believe we can do this by connecting to them in some way everyday. The only reason you knew about his “pink problem” is that he felt comfortable with you, lying still there in the dark. Despite your jet lag…you took time to talk to him. In doing so, you were able to turn something negative into a positive by telling him how proud you were of him. By making kids feel loved, we make them strong enough to deal with anything.

  5. Tonggu Momma Says:
    September 19th, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Hopping over from Scribbit to say that I really, truly loved this post!!!! (And my favorite color is blue.)

  6. Tonggu Momma Says:
    September 19th, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Hopping over from Scribbit to say that I really, truly loved this post!!!! (And my favorite color is blue.)

  7. Gabrielle / Positive Frenzy Says:
    September 20th, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Love it! My son also always chose pink as his favorite much to the grimaces of others, which I did not care, I always let him choose his own and just smiled! Now in the first grade, his favorite is blue! Funny how the peer pressure and even adult pressure can change your choices, but I agree with you in being free to be me! and allowing our children to choose for themselves and be their supporting them all the way! Great post girl!!!

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