My daughter reminded me the other day that just because I think something is true doesn't mean she's going to think it's true unless I repeat my truth to her over and over again. In many cases, this is irrelevant. She doesn't need to like the same hockey team I do, she doesn't need to think hamburgers are the best food and she doesn't need to think writing is better than math. But some things are not up for debate.
"(Specific Boy) told me pink is a girl color," she said to me as I lay in bed with her that night.
"But (Specific Boy) said so."
"(Specific Boy) is wrong, it's as simple as that."
From this conversation I took these things:
- 4-year-olds believe anything other 4-year-olds say.
- My 4-year-old is a typical 4-year-old.
- Pink being a girl color is bullsh*t.
- I need to teach my 4-year-old that.
It took me 10 minutes to even convince her that I had been through more schooling than (Specific Boy) and that my education and my just generally being old put me in a position to know much better than her friend what was and what wasn't a boy color or girl color.
My goal was to get her to the point where every color is known just as a color, not a boy color or a girl color. "A girl can like pink and a boy can like pink," I tried to explain. "A girl can like blue and a boy can like blue," I went on. "There are no colors that only boys can like or that only girls can like -- they're all the exact same."
I settled for the night on calling every color a boy color AND a girl color, and I told her she could tell (Specific Boy) that very thing the next day if she really wanted to. Because (Specific Boy) must not be hearing this enough.
It was a not-so-subtle reminder that kids don't know everything, any more than adults do -- and it was also a reminder that there are parents out there who aren't squashing obvious bullsh*t when their kids spout it. This should be an easy one to get rid of, even if toy stores continue to fill "girl" aisles full of pink LEGOs. Because all it requires to change your child's opinion is to talk to him or her. If all parents sit down with their children and tell them that identifying boys or girls by colors is wrong, the kids will have no choice but to understand that.
At this level of thinking, there is no middle ground. This isn't about making your kid like your hockey team; this is about making sure your child is accepting of all people, no matter what their favorites are. It's about ensuring that all kids feel comfortable being themselves. I very seriously think that giving thoughts like "boy colors" and "girl colors" a home is dangerous parenting.
These outdated views are what lead to bullying. A boy can and should wear pink if that's his favorite color. A parent should be preparing his or her child not only to be the one wearing pink -- but also to be the one who welcomes another boy at school when he's wearing pink. There is NO room for "pink is a girl color."
Yes, girls can like pink; yes, boys can hate pink. No, your child does not have the right to tell someone he isn't being a boy because he likes the color pink -- or that a girl has to like pink "because she's a girl." So please, if you're allowing this kind of sentiment to ride because it's just "harmless fun," make it stop. Right now.