Operation Caffeination

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Color my world

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I feel comfortable letting my daughter color outside the lines. I want her to explore and define her own identity without being hampered by messages about what women are supposed to do and like. I hope that, someday, she’ll be able to look at me and laugh at my comparative close-mindedness and inability to see the big picture. I want her to have a better life than the one I’ve lead.

Fueled by these hopes, I feel joyfully confident when I dress my little girl each morning, sometimes in her sweet little striped pink dress paired with leggings and a cardigan, sometimes in a hand-me-down Mariners shirt and threadbare red pants. I just popped her into clean pj’s today. Melia’s little dresser explodes with color, ranging from pearly whisper pink to psychedelic tie-dye. This child will select her favorite colors from a very broad palette.

With my son, however, I have not felt so free. I was at a different point in my own development when he was born and had not yet started to ask questions about gender stereotyping and programming. I also fear social punishment; in a patriarchal society, it can be very dangerous to be the pretty boy who likes nail polish and parasols.

On the other hand, if my son can’t feel safe to explore the world with me at his side, how far can I expect to see him go as an adult? Is this not the best recipe for anger problems and repression?

This weekend, Darren and I hit the mall for some new “big boy” underwear. I won’t allow licensed characters in my home, so we tend to get our underwear at Penney’s and Hanna Andersson. Typically, I grab a package of basic white undies and head for the cash register, but this time I decided to try something different. I selected a few packages of appropriately-sized underpants and told Darren to pick out the ones he wanted.

He jumped for the hot pink/floral pack without a second’s hesitation, deliberated for awhile, and then chose a package of blue helicopter-themed pants as well. We put the rest back on the rack.

“Do you like these undies?” I asked as we headed to the cashier.

“Yes!” Darren beamed. “Kids like pink.”

“It’s a fun color,” I agreed. “Do you have a favorite color, Darren?”

“Yep,” he replied. “Pink. And blue. And green. And orange. And white. And yellow. …actually, Mom, I mostly just like playing.”

Great, great answer.



Written by GRSeim

February 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm

One Response

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  1. The days we leave the house with Libra wearing a dress, I can practically guarantee that I’ll come home with a headache of my own making – worry and fear and anxiety that someone, somewhere, will have words for me about letting my boy child dress in girl clothes. It’s not happened so far, and I worry that all the pre-emptive hunching and grumping will somehow wear off on him, so I sit on it, and seethe in it, and smile and tell him he looks gorgeous when he smiles and twirls.

    You’re right. It’s not easy.

    I wish I could have Darren’s attitude. “I mostly just like playing” indeed.


    February 29, 2012 at 6:52 am

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