Today I faced one of my first true parenting dilemmas– and one of the first times my partner and I have disagreed on a decision.
I signed my eldest son, Carston, up for town soccer where he will play on a U4 team. He needs cleats and shin guards for the first time so we headed to a sporting goods store to get him sized and outfitted.
After relaying Carston’s street shoe size the salesman found the corresponding box of Umbro cleats to try on. That box happened to hold hot pink cleats. Which happened to fit.
Now you may recall Carston’s favorite color has long been purple. He has recently expanded his “favorite” palette so that he ranks his fave colors in the following manner: “purple, pink, and blue.” So after these shoes fit and Mr. Eddy of Dick’s went to get him neon green shoes in the same size, Carston obviously said he wanted the pink ones. I hesitated for a second, but privately thought the neon green option was pretty heinous, so decided the pink ones were fine.
Next up were shin guards. This time Mr. Eddy used the standard black-sock covered ones for size. After finding a set that worked we thought we were done. But Carston then pointed out he could get those in hot pink as well to “match.” For some reason, this suddenly struck me as a lot of hot pink.
Look, I am very open on this, but even I have my limits. Why? I’ve suddenly started worrying that all those pink and purple might lead to some teasing. In many ways Carston is even more “boy” than he was a year ago. Just walk into our house to see superhero detritus of shields, swords, and other fighting gear all over…
When he asked for purple shoes for back-to-school, and specifically to wear them on his first day of his new school this week (where one of the school colors is purple), I was fine with it and even crossed to the girls’ shoes at Stride Rite to make that happen. But when he then wanted “sparkly pink and purple shoes” I drew my own line. Why? That teasing worry. It wasn’t aesthetic, because I know if he were a girl I would have gotten the sparkly ones.
But a new neighbor was there at Dick’s (who has sons and a daughter) and she commented that times have changed and it’s ok, so we went with the Pepto Bismal-pink shin guards and socks. Of course, we even got the purple ball.
As we were walking back to the car Carston commented, “Mommy, I’m glad you brought me because Daddy wouldn’t have let me get the pink stuff.” Well, that’s when I started to get worried…
Sure enough when we got home Carston proudly showed off his new gear. Once he was up in his room my husband then informed me that he would have just said that the pink ones weren’t an option for his team. But I have this policy about not fibbing to my kids so that wouldn’t fly with me.
The thing is that just as we don’t want girls to think looking pretty is their thing and not being a computer scientist isn’t, I don’t want boys to think pink can’t be their thing and being a car mechanic automatically is their domain. But when I coined the term “pink warrior girls” specifically about youth soccer players who happen to be girls, I didn’t see a good male analogue.
Can Carston and other boys growing up today fight with pink and purple swords? It seems that things, even in soccer, are moving in that direction. I hope that if someone does comment on his pink shoes he can simply say, “Pink isn’t just for girls, nothing is just for girls or just for boys.” Or, I’ll have to inform him that apparently a lot of male professional players now wear pink cleats, among other function options, per the paper of record. [And who knew black cleats used to be made out of KANGAROO leather?! Learn something new every day.]
This seemed to assuage my partner, though I might just have to exchange those pink shin guards for reasons solely related to TOO MUCH pink. If my parenting philosophy is captured by the phrase, “everything in moderation,” then I think pink cleats and a purple/pink ball is quite enough, no?
How would you handle this situation, or how have you handled it?