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Mr. Pink

Yesterday I betrayed a value I hold pretty dear, and I’m not at all happy about it. You see, I lied to Simon about something, which I don’t like, and in doing so I complied with rigid gender stereotypes I find stifling and ridiculous.  You know that saying that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem? Well, I tend to believe it. Meet Jessica, part of the problem.

The issue is that I’ve been shopping for summer shoes for Simon on discount web sites. I found a great pair of water shoes at a 75% discount, a pair of yellow duck Polliwalks to replace his green frogs from last year. He was excited about them. But while I was consulting with him, he found a pair that he liked even more and enthusiastically pointed them out to me:

Hot pink duck Polliwalks.

Now, to be honest, these would not be my first choice on many grounds. Hot pink won’t look good on Simon with his warm coloring, and hot pink won’t go with the rest of his clothes. But the thing I don’t care about is that hot pink is a “girl” color. I find that association to be ludicrous bordering on offensive. For starters, why are some colors male and others female? For seconders, why do we have to shove three-year-olds into rigid gender categories? For thirders (is that a word?), a hundred years ago, pink was considered a masculine color, so the rigid gender roles are not only stupid, but also random and arbitrary.

So for heaven’s sake, why can’t my adorable little boy enjoy hot pink shoes without it becoming a giant statement? And I guess the answer is because it will be giant statement to others, and we don’t live in a vacuum.  I’d happily say “to heck with it–let people say what they will” if the gossip would be confined to me. “Did you see what Jessica let her son wear? What was she thinking?” Let them say that, I don’t care.

What I do care about is what other children might say to Simon. And according to the school director, even at this tender age, Simon’s peers are likely to notice a boy in pink shoes and say unkind things to him.  How depressing is that?

So there it is. Yesterday, when the subject of hot pink duck shoes came up again (he raised it, not me), I looked at his excited little face and straight up lied.

They don’t have them in your size, honey. I’m so sorry! How about yellow ducks. Bright yellow like lemonade. That’s good for a hot day, right? They’ll match the lemonade frozen juice pops we’ll make when it’s hot.

You can tell I’m lying by how long I ran on about the wonders of yellow. Thankfully, Simon is less artful and bought it. I still think he’d rather have the hot pink ones, but he’ll  be OK. And I’m still sad about lying to him about it, but I guess I’ll be OK, too.

One Response to “Mr. Pink”

  1. harriette says:

    I had the same telling the truth, the whole truth crisis. What I learned was that Simon will probably never learn that you lied to him if he wears the yellow shoes, but if he wore the pink ones and he got teased, he would remember that forever and also remember that you “made” him buy the pink ones .

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