Pure & Local: On pink and parenting

Sheena Bounsanga

My little man Q is four and a half years old. He’s a fun loving little guy with copious amounts of energy.

On any given day you can find him dressed up as any one of the following; Spiderman, Captain America, Optimus Prime and/or Bumblebee.

Like his daddy, he likes to wear pink, or at least he used to. You see, Q is in junior kindergarten, and to make a long story short, a few of his classmates have decided that pink is no longer socially acceptable for boys. If you touch pink, you’re a girl. If I make you touch pink, you’re a girl. Even if I throw pink blocks at you, you are a girl. This subliminal message has been so deeply ingrained into these little guys’ minds that many have started refusing to use pink at home. But pink isn’t the problem; this exemplifies the ideology that being a girl (as associat- ed with pink) is inherently bad.

Q will no longer drink out of a pink cup, colour with a pink crayon or pass his sister her pink hair brush. In fact, not only does he refuse to touch it, he behaves as if these items have been cursed with a strange spell (enter the squeals: “ew,ew,ew!”).

We’ve spent the last 10 days in Myrtle Beach, and over those 10 days, I slowly started to see Q shift back towards pink.

He started wearing his pink shirts and even he wanted to try on his sister’s pink goggles. Without the pressure of his classmates, he was able to like what he likes. It was nice to see. This morning Q was getting dressed for school and picked out his pink golf shirt. I hesitated. I knew wearing that shirt meant risking social suicide in the trenches of the playground. I also knew if I convinced him to change his shirt, this would lead to a something more detrimental than just a handful of five-year-olds succeeding in ma- nipulating my son’s choice. It could eventually lead him to having a lack of confidence while growing up. He wore the shirt anyway.

He was happy and content walking to school; I was nervous as hell. Not only is Q a fun loving little man, he’s also a very sensitive being. And this Mama Bear wanted nothing more than to protect her baby boy’s spirit from being crushed by a couple of five year olds.

I walked him up to his classroom door and he lost it, sobbing.

“I want to go home, I want to go home!”

It was out of the blue, and completely unexpected given his excitement ear- lier that morning. Perhaps it was the sight of the other kids, or perhaps (and more likely) it was my own nervous energy he was picking up on. Either way, it sucked.

I got down to his level, we did some mindful breathing, checked-in with his mindful emotions and slowly but surely he started to calm.

And with a deep breath, a big hug and a warm kiss, there I left him… in a pink shirt.

I touched base with the teacher within the first hour of school and she said he was rocking his day, with his pink shirt.