My boys like pink, and yellow and orange and blue and purple and red, in fact all colours, anything that’s colourful. They don’t have a bone in their naive bodies that realises that the culture they’re growing up in associates liking pink with being a girl. I don’t like the colour pink at all, and there wasn’t a single pink thing in this house until they developed conscious choice. We went to a few charity shops on Friday, the boys are fiendishly good at sniffing out the toy sections, Ruru attempted to bring many things home but Eddie struggled in the first few shops to find anything he desired, which was fine as we weren’t really shopping for them, but then he found a bright pink jeep car with a little driver and puppies on the back. A bright, vehicle and animals, perfect. One shiny penny exchanged and it was his. Rufus came away with a My Little Pony figureen and a crappy 90s’ happymeal aeroplane. They were happy and in love. These little purchases allowed me and Jon to enjoy a lovely café lunch in relative calm as they were both insatiable and engrossed.
I know that Jon and I have little time left before someone, somewhere will project onto them that certain toys are for boys and certain other toys are for girls, an increasingly frustrating rule that we long to protect them from. I wish I could allow them to be free in their choice of clothes, but even me, a fairly liberal and gender frustrated lass has decided to follow that marketing rule to the letter. All their clothes are from the boys’ section. I recently had to borrow, for Ruru, socks from my neice and he was over the moon. He’s renowned for instantly taking his socks off once indoors, but this borrowed spotty pink pair had to be wrenched off of him, mainly because Eddie was so jealous of their beauty that it was safer all round to just take them away. It’s sad I’m genuinely scared of the responses my boys would get if I allowed them to wear what they want. Even though I believe in my heart their choices would have diddly squat to do with gender, more with their love of everything their small world has shown them. They love being princesses and Kings, love watching diggers as much as my little pony, love hitting each other as much as pretend kissing. This is not because they don’t have a gender yet, it’s because I’m trying to protect them from being defined by it.
Perhaps my own issues and hang ups are here most obvious in my parenting. I am a frustrated female, one who lives the life of a 50s housewife and occasionally wishes she were male. I do not feel like a typical, feminine woman. I never have and my marvellous husband is not an alpha male, more soppy sod (he watches more kitten videos than any crazy cat lady I’ve known). Yet in all of this I do fear for my boys, and yes I do call them boys. Not a day goes by where I don’t shout, “My marvellous boys!” and wrap them both up in my arms (don’t think I don’t mutter under my breath, “…or girls, you choose.”) I fear that if either does chose to be anything other than a straight male that we shall be held partially responsible, especially if there is trauma, for not defining the gendered world soon enough for them. Perhaps I will blame myself for any negativity or confusion they may or may not encounter. I hope they don’t, but I hope they grow up content and accepted whoever they turn out to be. I’m planning on one doctor and one famous drummer, no pressure chaps! But I’m trying my best to do what Jon and I decide is best for now, and best for now is choosing the toys they want, twirling like princesses and enjoying pink biscuits whenever they have the opportunity, until the day they have to hide and repress that urge because they’ve learnt that pink is for girls.