Pink shoes, pink shirt, pink socks? Sure, no problem. Pink…pants? Uhhh, maybe not, especially not pink leather pants. Pink skirt? No.
I’m sorry, but no. And it’s not because I’m some homophobic bigot. We’re so scared these days to apply a “norm” to children that we’ve lost sight of the real issue: kids are not incredible decision-makers. Kids don’t know anything about anything. They’re idealists because they just graduated from crapping their pants, and have literally everything served to them on a silver platter (what, you don’t have a silver platter?!).
But it’s no longer just a war over letting boys wear pink. It’s over letting little preschool boys wear whatever they want. Here’s where parents of daughters sit back and laugh, since it’s socially acceptable for a girl to wear a dress or pants, and in any color. Le sigh, the tribulations of parenting a boy.
Amy Graff tackles the gender topic for the SF Gate’s “The Mommy Files.” Now, I’m not going the route that Amy’s a liberal crazy. She’s not. Well, I don’t think she is. It’s not coming through here, at least. She talks about not locking kids into a “gender cage,” but it seems like, for the most part, she’s talking about letting boys wear pink, girls wear blue, and letting everyone play with trucks and dolls, whichever fits their fancy.
Wi-five, Amy – we’re on the same page. *smack*wub*wub*wub* (that was the 802.11n signal after the five)
Graff mentions a focus group that “Good Morning America” brought together over the topic of gender roles. All goes according to the current normal discourse until a dude mentions that he let his son wear a skirt to school. Which this new breed of parent reads just like the father that mentioned it – too afraid to hold their child back from spreading his wings, so they say “I struggled with my own comfort level.” Well yeah. But c’mon – your kid’s not the king of the castle. Somewhere between the demonizing of spanking and now, we started deciding that we were stepping on a beautiful flower if we guided our kids through the maze of socialization. We keep hitting the metal sides of the theoretical Operation-game of life, and when we hear the buzz, we back down. I’m not saying we should hit our kids, but we should give them a structure. I mean, if my kid wants to wear pink, no problem. I was, of course, the one that had custom-made black-and-pink Converse shoes that said “PRINCESS” on the back. But I’m an adult, and half of why I did it was that I wanted to see what people would say. The other half is because, well, I love pink and am basically a 31 year old princess. If my kid wanted to wear shoes that said “princess,” I’d object. I’m an adult, I made the decision, and I had real reasons for wanting to do it, despite the risk of some narrow-minded meathead jack-ass pulling me into an alley and beating me.
My kid also, for the record, wants to eat his own feces, but I don’t let him do that. I’m not saying that wearing a pink skirt and eating poop are on the same level, but the illustration is that my kid doesn’t know anything about decisions. If I let him really express himself, he’d do everything nude. I mean, he’s two, so he’s a little shy of the example in Graff’s story. But look – I think if we’re going to let our kids pick their own outfits, we should just break down the age-walls and let our kids buy cigarettes and beer at 5 years old because clearly, we’re relinquishing our powers as parents to steer a kid. Not in the “right direction,” but just steer them safely until they get to a point where they’re old enough to make informed decisions. What’s funny is even while I’m writing this, I’m thinking “god, people are going to think I’m crazy and restrictive.” I don’t think I am – my kid’s in all sorts of classes, playing with all sorts of kids and more or less blooming like a big meat-flavored flower. But if I think he’s going to do something that’ll hurt him physically or emotionally, I step in. I’m his dad. It’s what I do.
BTW, Nolesy also talked about this before when that super-not-inflammatory J. Crew ad came out. His verdict: Who cares?!
And all that crap about not pigeonholing a kid’s perception of gender goes out the window when we look at ourselves as adults. When I go to a wedding, I’m going to wear a suit (and with a pink tie, nonetheless). My wife is going to wear a dress. And sure, we could pull a switcheroo. Believe me, I’d love to wear a dress: it’s light and airy, and nothing’s clamping around my neck and sausage. But I won’t. First off, by anyone’s standards, I’d look terrible. I just don’t have the right curves for it. Second, even if I want to wear a dress, I don’t want to get that kind of attention. I want to go, celebrate my friend’s wedding, have a free dinner, and enjoy the company. I don’t need people to be looking at me the whole time, wondering what on Earth got into me. That’s what happens at school when you put a kid in a skirt. Well, until college, at least, where more or less everything flies (I went to UC Santa Cruz. Everything. Flies.). And it’s not like you’re supporting some giant evil machine to just put your kid in “distraction-free garb” and let him focus on his studies. There’s got to be a reasonable level in there somewhere.
Now, kilts, on the other hand – I agree with. Especially Utilikilts. (The author of this post was in no way paid by Utilikilts.)
Anywhoo, let’s try not to get too bent out of shape about this – but c’mon people. Parent-up. We’ve got plenty of other things to rage against the machine about. Artificial sweeteners, BPA, giant jerk-ass companies stealing money, you name it. I think we’ll all be okay if we just tell boys to stick to pants and shorts.