You’re complicating things. Or perhaps you’re un-complicating them, depending on your point of view. You always expect the unexpected as a parent, but one of the first things I was thrown by after your birth was an overwhelming sense of responsibility to not f*ck up. It came from this feeling I would get from looking at you, a palpable fear spurred by the vastness of possibility that your little body represented. It was like looking at a book with blank pages and feeling overwhelmed by the infinite stories its binding could hold.
Then toddlerhood arrived. I would walk into toy stores for the first time in decades and feel immediately suffocated by the Mattel-concoted dichotomy: blue on the left, pink on the right. Legos stacked with dinosaur kits, dollhouses clumped with toy vacuum cleaners. Every single store. Exactly the same. I felt like we were living in the social equivalent of the Cretaceous Period. But how could I protect my little girl from these damaging stereotypes without locking her in a cage? When she’s gifted a Barbie, do I look the other way? Or do I chop off its hair, give it a breast reduction and stuff it with a turkey?
Parenthood is like a rite of passage into a mine field: you know your journey has a high potential for insidious results, but you’re not always sure how to avoid them. Sometimes, though, choices are easy. For now, I can control what clothes I buy for you, what television shows you watch and which toys I buy. Your days with GoldieBlox are developing your engineering skills, empowering you with the same aptitudes that have long been reserved only for the opposite sex. Your natural affinity for Peppa, the adorably androgynous British pig, has filled me with joy. And your obsession with throwing snowballs at your father is, well, it’s just awesome.
But recently you’ve developed a few “questionable in nature” preferences. When given a choice amongst all the colors of the wheel, you seldom choose a shade outside pink’s spectrum. You obsessively ask mommy to “put on red lipstick, please” and gush over the sight of the stain on my lips. When I can’t find you in the house, I often find you at my vanity, applying a clownish amount of blush to your cheeks. And you’ve also somehow amassed quite the collection of tutus and can most often be found donning one.
I’m not sure where that all comes from. But one thing I am sure of is that you are one joyous little child. If it’s lipstick and tutus that make your world spin, I’d never have the heart to take them from you. But if one day your sights turn to baseballs, hammers and cars, I’ll love you just the same. More than anything, I want you to know that it never has to be one or the other like the toy store wants you to think. So, go ahead, tear down those aisles and pave a new path. Because your world will only be as blue or as pink as you make it.