Most people seem to have favorite colors. And for some reason a lot of people have strong ideas about what constitutes an acceptable favorite color for a boy or a girl. G doesn’t hold with much of that. His favorite color is pink.
We didn’t condition him this way. Most of his life he’s been wearing hand-me-downs from his two big brothers, none of which have pink decorations. We didn’t paint his walls pink or give him pink toys, or any such thing. And yet, for the past couple of years he has absolutely loved the color pink.
G loves pink flowers, pink clothes, and pink clouds. For months he asked me for a pink shirt until I found a nice one in his size, and now he frequently asks to wear it to church on Sundays. He loves his big sister’s pink backpack and often wears it when we go hiking or to the zoo. Not long ago he lost his hat and for a few days he borrowed he borrowed her spare hat. It’s pink and decorated with butterflies. Naturally he was thrilled to have it on top of his head all day long. His love for pink is part of his identity, part of how he defines himself, and wearing pink is how he expresses what he loves. He’s not confused or doubtful about who he is, he just really likes a particular color and embraces it wholeheartedly.
G isn’t that different from his big brother A, who has loved the color green just as passionately from about the same age, with no signs of shifting to any other hue. A even tends to pick his favorite super heroes based on their color (Hulk and Green Lantern, as a result, rank very highly). The only difference is that G likes a color that in America is largely associated with girls. Sadly, some in our society still have the out-dated idea that associating certain colors with particular genders is natural, or even somehow genetic. Instead, it’s nothing more than a sociocultural construct that is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) thrust onto children at a young age.
One of the greatest side benefits of homeschooling our children is that there is very little societal pressure upon G to conform to these sorts of social ideas. There are no classmates at school to make fun of him or pressure him into wearing more “masculine” colors. Instead, he has brothers and sisters who tell him he looks handsome when he wears his favorite color, and point out pink flowers for him to see as they walk through a garden. They love him for who he is and the things he cares about, and they don’t make him uncomfortable or doubtful about his own personal identity. Instead they fill him with self-confidence about who he is.
As a stay-at-home father I love seeing my children grow up nearly oblivious to cultural ideas about what boys and girls should like or do in life. G has no concept of pink being a “girl color”, anymore than he has any idea that it’s somewhat unusual for his father to stay home and take care of the kids. And as a result, I have hope that all of my children can grow up with wider ideas about their possibilities and options in life. Not constricted by old-fashioned concepts about what men and women are supposed to do with their lives as opposed to following their dreams and pursuing what they passionately want to do.
So when I see my young son wearing his pink shirt, I smile. I think he’s a pretty awesome boy.