You might recall that my son had wanted pink sandals some time ago. And I decided not to buy them and to convince him that blue-beige ones are much better. And I felt rotten for it. And angry. Why can’t my son have pink shoes if he likes them? Why do I have to fear that he will be made fun of? To compensate I bought him pink socks. With horses. And hearts. He loved them. He couldn’t wait to wear them to preschool. But, alas, they had to be washed first. So he had to wait for three long days.
He dressed up with his cute socks and jeans and his new sandals. He told me, “But you will have to buy a pink t-shirt to go with them, you know. I have to have a pink t-shirt.” Okay.
He went to preschool. When I asked him in the evening, he told me that everybody loved his pink socks. That he really needed a pink tee. Have you ever tried to find a pink t-shirt without ruffles or something? Just a plain t-shirt. Not too girlish? Not too expensive, too, since I didn’t know how long he would like to wear it. What I saw in the department store made me glad to have a boy. There was not one t-shirt that I liked. (And I remembered why I keep buying my son’s clothes out of a cataloge. It’s not only the girl’s clothes that are ugly.) So I tried the second hand store. And found a pink t-shirt like this for 2 €:
Of course this had to be washed too so he couldn’t wear it the day after I bought it. But he had his socks. The next day we arrived at preschool, late as often, and a little girl sat down beside him. She told her mother, “The boy is wearing girlie socks.” And he showed her, proudly. In the evening he was very sad to learn that his socks had to be washed since they were very, very dirty. A few days later I told him they were ready to be worn again and that he could wear his new pink tee with it. He had loved the tee when I showed it to him. Then he said, “No, I don’t want to wear the socks or the t-shirt to preschool.” “Why?” “L. and F. made fun of me.” It turned out that a couple of kids had laughed at him because of the socks. And that everybody had been talking about it for days. Obviously a boy wearing pink socks is a very hot topic for preschoolers.
And that was it. He didn’t even want to wear the t-shirt or the socks on weekends. They are tainted with the laughter of his peers.
This makes me sad. I’m even sadder because I saw it coming. Of course I could have prevented this but then I thought, “Maybe it’s not that bad.” And that everybody should be able to wear the color he or she likes. I’m still angry that I’m living in a society where people can’t wear the colors they like. Not even when they are only four years old. I knew that preschoolers and kindergarteners are highly conventional. You can’t really blame them, they learn their values from the adults around them. Women do housework, men can work with computers, women are bad at math, men can’t sew, women always want to be pretty, men don’t care how they look, blablabla. As if there were no individuality.
Or am I the only one who thinks that gender inequality is creeping back?
(Edited to add: Since there were so many comments on this post where people felt sad for my son I wrote yet another post on this to round it all up: Pink – the third)