I know I have milked the subject of pink shoes or socks enough already, but – today is the day of the May just post roundtable and there will be some new readers coming over to read the story of my son’s pink socks. All because I didn’t write anything else remotely social or just for the whole month. And those new readers – and the old ones as well – will then think that my poor son still suffers and maybe cry a little for him.
(And for those who are new to this and too lazy or pressed for time to follow the links: my son wanted to have pink shoes which I didn’t buy because I was afraid that he would be made fun of at preschool. Then I bought him pink socks. He wore them to preschool once and after being laughed at never wanted to wear them again.)
I’ll continue to be angry at gender inequality, I promise. And right now I have the feeling that maybe little boys don’t have as much choices as little girls. And then they will grow up and become men. And maybe they will be grown men in a society where they still earn more money than women, and do less housework. They might live in a world where a mother has to come home from an important meeting immediately because her child puked so she can mop it up, even when the child is with his father at the time. If said child’s father on the other hand were to be – let’s say – going out with his friends for a couple of beers, and the child got sick, there might be a fat chance that he heard about the incident only the morning after. “Oh, by the way the child will be staying home today, it got sick in the evening.”
(Disclaimer: This is not to be confused with the situation at creative family where master guitarist and creative mother share childcare duties and mopping up. Each of them is considered to be a fully grown parent without need of further assistance.)
So maybe I should shut up about the pink socks. And I will. I only want to write this post to assure you all that my son isn’t sad any more about the pink socks or shoes. He has forgotten the pink shoes entirely. For a four year old he has a remarkable memory so this shows it hasn’t been that important to him. It was important to me. Because I chose to use my powers of persuasion to change his opinion. And though I use my powers of persuasion all the time with my son this time felt a little immoral. Only I didn’t want to have to buy another pair of shoes.
So. His social standing in the preschooler community obviously didn’t suffer much. One boy who had laughed at him because of the pink socks invited him to his birthday party just last week. The little girl who had said to her mother, “The boy is wearing girly socks.” did so not in malice or ridicule but in curiosity. She found it odd and remarkable but not alarmingly so.
I won’t talk to the teachers about this issue because I doubt that there is anything they can do about it. The children already know that they shouldn’t make fun of others. They still do occasionally. They are just trying to figure out how to be social animals. Friendships are forged and broken. At least in this school the atmosphere is very friendly. When we go through the door in the morning there are children shouting, “Hello Leo.” right and left. The children are nice to one another. Unlike my memories of preschool, girls and boys play together often. A boy can play with the dolls or in the doll kitchen without being stigmatized. When I was four years old there was a boy in my preschool who liked to play in the doll’s corner. He never recovered from that. And I went to school with him until fourth grade. I don’t think that something like this could happen in the school my son attends.
Also his teacher told me that she admires my son for being quite independent. She said, “He plays nicely with others though he is quiet and a little shy. He has no problems. And when he has enough or doesn’t want to play what the others are playing he goes away and plays alone.” That made me quite proud. My son is independent and self-reliant. He won’t let himself get coaxed by peer pressure. At least for now.
Those of you with preschoolers and kindergarteners probably know that this is one of the most rigid and conservative phases in life. These children are setting out to learn the rules, and so they like people to stick to them. They try to understand what being male or female means. They try to understand what being a child and an adult means. They try to see the big picture, how people work, how one does things.
So my son goes back and forth between his likings. He declared, “I no longer like pink, I like black and brown now.” a couple of weeks ago. When I told him that one can like all three at once, he said no. You can’t. Just yesterday he declared, “I don’t like black and brown any longer. I like pink better again.”
My son’s biggest ambition right now has nothing to do with clothes but with his deep desire to be master of his own fate. He wants to be grown-up and be able to do everything he can imagine. He just starts to see how rich the world is and what range of things and activities are available to human beings. He wants to grow his own food, make his own clothes, build a space shuttle and travel to the moon, become a knight, have children, and cook.
His most persistent fantasy is that of building his own submarine, build an ocean in the backyard and then live there on his own. So that nobody can tell him what to do. He will be staying up all night, wear his pajamas the whole day and have robots who manufacture everything he desires. (No, he never saw a James Bond movie.) He plans to move out at his fifth birthday, but we can come and visit him. He even told me that I could stay with him in the submarine to travel to Brazil. Or maybe Italy. Or both.