My 7-year-old son is raising a few eyebrows in church and school because his favorite color is pink. Apparently, it’s only OK for girls to like this color. Right off the bat I’m annoyed, because girls don’t get the same crap for wearing a so-called boy’s color like blue.
Duncan has a pink winter hat and a pink knitted coin pouch. When a priest saw him wearing the hat last year, a look of concern came over him. “Well, I guess there’s still time,” he said.
This past Sunday, Duncan showed the school principal his coin pouch. “That’s an interesting color,” she said.
By the way, that pouch was stuffed with coins Duncan couldn’t wait to put in the poor box.
I once asked Duncan why pink is his favorite color. His answer: “Because girls like pink. And I like girls.” Innocent words from a 7-year-old boy.
Here’s why I’m getting pissed off at people for making a big deal out of what I think is nothing:
This is how you start a child down the path of social anxiety, pain and dysfunction. You take something as innocent as a color choice and start suggesting there’s something wrong with him. The implication is that, because it’s a so-called girl’s color, he’s going to be gay when he grows up.
When I was a kid, I got hassled over the more old-fashioned stuff, like being overweight. I also kept believing in Santa Clause longer than the other kids my age. Being fat meant being damaged, unworthy of the same respect everyone else got. In high school, I used to watch teachers belittle students who dressed like hippes. The kids were drug-injecting wastoids as far as some of the teachers were concerned. I knew some who were, but I knew others who were not.
Make a kid feel stupid over how they look or what they wear and after awhile they’re probably going to start believing they are damaged goods.
I’m not going to let that happen to my kids without a fight.
Duncan can like whatever color he wants to like. If you have a problem with that, you can come talk to the boy’s ugly, still overweight Dad.
I’ll probably tell you you’re being shallow and judgemental. You’ve been warned.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how schools tend to deal with kids who are different. Kids like the one I used to be.
The school we send our kids to, a private Parochial school, is wonderful on many levels. My favorite thing about it is the other families who send their kids there. Many people who have become dear friends. Most importantly, the kids are getting a daily dose of God there, which is something Erin and I care deeply about.
But I see something there that bothers me. It’s something that’s a problem in a lot of schools.
It’s the sports mentality. The idea that the ONLY way to measure a kid’s potential is by how he or she does in sports.
My children are not much into sports. Both are more focused on art, science (especially Sean) and music (Duncan’s passion). Some might call that different. And because sports is such a huge deal in their school, I don’t think their talents are being put to the test as they should be.
Last year, Erin pitched the idea of a “Mad Scientist” program for kids who love science. The program would cost the school nothing and the principal expressed interest. Then it went nowhere. Kids like Sean lose out on this one.
But the sports. Oh, how the school loves its sports. The teams win big. And that is encouraged at all costs, even if it means only a quarter of the kids on a team get to play while those who “aren’t good enough” spend all their time on the bench. The goal is to win. If you’re not good enough to make that happen, you take a seat. Not the best way to challenge kids to reach their full potential, even if their potential doesn’t look like much to judgmental, competitive eyes.
This isn’t just a problem where my kids go to school. Everywhere you look, it’s all about the sports. The football team. The softball team. The hockey team. The basketball team.
Sure, sports are important. Sports bring out the best in many children, and can be as important an outlet for troubled kids as music, art and writing was and still is for me.
If a kid doesn’t want to do sports, so what?
If a boy likes the color pink, so what?
God made all colors for everyone to embrace, not just some for the boys and some for the girls.
Get over it.