These are my son’s hockey skates. He wanted pink laces. Because it’s “Mommy’s favourite colour”. He is 3 years old. He was so happy about his pink laces.
Fast forward to this morning… his first lesson of the season. He was an excited little boy. He laced those pink laced up… secured his helmet on… and eagerly awaited his ice time.
That’s when a girl said to him, “You know pink is for girls, right? That’s gay!”. Now this wasn’t another 3 year old who simply regurgitates what they’ve heard, verbatim. No, instead it was a 12 year old girl. A girl old enough to form her own opinion. A girl old enough to know right from wrong. A girl old enough to know when it’s not appropriate to comment.
To be honest, I was expecting it. When he chose pink laces, I knew someone would comment. I knew someone would stare. But I try to raise my children to stay true to themselves, without apology or explanation. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t bite my nails down, anxiously worrying about the hardships it takes for a child (even an adult!) to stay true to themselves… especially at such a young age, and in such a cruel world.
So yes, I wasn’t surprised. But what I WAS surprised by was my 3 year old son’s response.
“Well… football players wear pink!”
They do. They accessorize themselves from head to toe in pink to show their support for those affected by breast cancer. Survivors. Those battling for their lives. Those who have lost their battle. Their families. Their loved ones.
And my 3 year old noticed! He may not have known exactly why they sport pink… but he made the connection that, yes, boys too wear pink. In fact, even the most macho of men wear pink.
The girl had no idea what he was talking about. No doubt because in her world, girls don’t watch football.
But it got me thinking… as a mother of 3 boys, I am constantly hearing about the importance of raising boys who respect women and gender equality. Yes, yes and yes. I’m all for it. But there are two sides to every coin. And I was very much so reminded of it today.
Maybe we also need to hear about raising girls who are equally accepting of boys. Boys who want to take dance class. Boys who want to play with dolls. Boys who want to wear pink laces… even to play hockey! Without the label of being “gay”.
It’s a double edged sword that we, as parents and as society, need to let the sharp edges dull the f-ck out.
Because girls should play sports… where boys should wear pink. And girls should wear short shorts without assumption or judgement… where boys should wear pink without judgement or assumption. Where girls should be President, where well…Donald Trump.
So for all the hours I lie awake worrying about the job I’m doing as a mother… I can confidently say that after today, I must be doing something right.
We are one. Pink. Blue. Or somewhere in between.