Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pretty in Pink

"Yes, a purse. I carry a purse!" -Jerry Seinfeld

A smattering of pink and yellow
I'm looking in my closet, and I see a smattering of pink and yellow... and it's not coming from my wife's side of the closet. Shirts, ties, shorts (it's spring)... what does it mean?

It means I'm a trendy guy. Some may even say a trendsetter. More on that in a moment.

The "outrageous" JCrew ad
A debate is raging on the internet and the cable networks over a boy with his toenails painted pink. Oh, the horror. J.Crew used the image of a mother painting her son's toenails in an ad. Some people were offended and concerned that we're blurring the lines of gender identification in this country. "This is an attack on traditional family values," they said.

Give me a break.

Straight guy, yellow pants, pink tie
Take it from a straight married guy who, if you need to label, is a "metrosexual" who can't wait until Memorial Day so he can break out his pairs of orange and yellow pants: Sexual orientation is color blind. You can dip me in pink and it doesn't mean I'm gay... not that there is anything wrong with that. And so what if a kid - or adult for that matter - is gay?

What is wrong with people?

I admit it... I watch "Grey's"
Yeah... I wear pink. And pastels. I also enjoy manicures and pedicures, get my hair cut at a salon, and watch Grey's Anatomy (with my wife). I also cook, am bad at fixing things and have no problems sharing my feelings... in this blog. Should my parents be concerned?

Maybe it's their fault. I remember my mother being emphatic about dressing me nicely for school. Button-down shirts tucked into dungarees. Always a belt. Never jeans or sneakers. Did she make me this way? Did she make me love clothes? What the hell did she do to me?

Gastineau: definitely not gay
One day when I was in second grade she let me dress myself. It was a Friday. I wore a Mark Gastineau jersey untucked, jeans and sneakers. She was mortified, but allowed it. That is me... on the weekends. During the week, I'm all about finding the right shirt-tie-pants combo and matching my socks to my tie, my belt to my shoes.

I dress well and look good. Thank you, mom.

I also distinctly remember carrying what could only be described as a handbag when I was a little boy. You read that right. A handbag. You know what I carried in it? Baseball cards. I needed something to carry baseball cards in... and that's what I found. Like I said... trendsetter. I was the first guy to carry a man purse. It was 1981 and I was 6. But I also remember it not being so manly.

Shortly thereafter, I recall my parents getting me a football-shaped bag for me to carry my stuff around.

Loved Mr. Do
Were they worried I was gay? Or were they pretty sure I wasn't, but didn't want anyone else to think I was? Who knows? Who cares. It was a different time. And if a little boy wants to look fabulous carrying his man purse full of baseball cards while he rides his bicycle to the deli to play Mr. Do, then dammit... let him. He'll figure things out eventually.

Now, I'm pretty sure my parents would have never painted my toenails pink... and I think that's ok too. I also don't think I would endorse my wife painting our son's toenails any color... if we had a son... unless he asked. I would still be hesitant... but on second thought... why the hell not?

After all, my daughter's favorite color is blue... but I'm pretty sure that does not make her a lesbian.

Frank Sinatra sings a line in Soliloquy that is poignant yet may apply here in a troubling way:

"You can have fun with a son, but you've got to be a father to a girl."

Maybe I'm reading too much into that lyric, but I do notice a trend among some parents of boys. It may be inadvertant, but they treat their children differently based on gender. Girls need to be handled delicately. Boys we need to toughen up. I frequently hear baby boys and toddler boys being affectionately referred to as "my little man." How about we let boys be boys?

She swings a mean bat... while wearing a tutu
You never hear "my little woman." The peanut is my little girl. She loves princess dress-up, Calico critters, dancing, and pushing her babies in her toy stroller. All her choices. We've also given her soccer balls, footballs, basketballs, baseballs, and golf clubs. She likes to play with all of them too... during the appropriate seasons.

It shouldn't be our job to dictate who our kids are and who they will become. It's our job as parents to recognize the path they are leaning towards, and help them navigate it.

They're looking for us to help them figure it out... no matter what color their toenails are painted.

I mentioned above that I'm bad at fixing things. Well, that's not entirely true, as I wrote here.

6 comments:

  1. My oldest boy is not as MANLY as a lot of kids his age... it used to bother me that he didn't like sports and was into more artsy things. I have learned to embrace that and realize that his passions are his drawings. I think we have it in our heads, especially a dad with a son, that he should NOT be doing certain things, like it is going to change who he is going to become. I wouldn't want my son to wear pink nail polish, but if he's happy with it great... although my boys hate Pink, thank God!

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  2. I love this post Justin. Most of all I love that picture of P in her tutu with the baseball bat. That pretty much says it all. You guys should be proud of the parents that you are!

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  3. i was that there day and i will be forever honored that you sported yellow pants and a pink tie to our wedding, justin. now, i am even that much more touched to have, in some small way, made an appearance in your blog on this awesometastic post. love it. especially as i sit at home awaiting the arrival of my own little man, er, boy, or, really, what i prefer to call to him in utero: dude. you might be happy to know that we will be bringing him home from the hospital (hopefully, sooner than later...) in his pink car-seat. yes, that's right. borrowed, free, was never in an accident, and, pink! whatevs.

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  5. Happy to hear so many positive responses. Thank you. And to "boggywoggy," perhaps your pregnancy distracted you from the first time an image (closer up and none of us are squinting) from your wedding appeared on the blog. It was recently:

    http://daddyknowsless.blogspot.com/2011/03/father-of-bride.html

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  6. All I can say is, the world needs more dads like you! The gift of acceptance...the best gift you can give someone else. Thank you for making me smile!

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