Duncan Likes Pink. So What?

by Bill Brenner on November 9, 2010

Duncan is raising a few eyebrows in church and school because his favorite color is pink. Apparently, it’s only OK for girls to like this color. Right off the bat I’m annoyed, because girls don’t get the same crap for wearing a so-called boy’s color like blue.

Duncan has a pink winter hat and a pink knitted coin pouch. When a priest saw him wearing the hat last year, a look of concern came over him. “Well, I guess there’s still time,” he said.

This past Sunday, Duncan showed the school principal his coin pouch. “That’s an interesting color,” she said.

By the way, that pouch was stuffed with coins Duncan couldn’t wait to put in the poor box.

I once asked Duncan why pink is his favorite color. His answer: “Because girls like pink. And I like girls.” Innocent words from a 7-year-old boy.

Here’s why I’m getting pissed off at people for making a big deal out of what I think is nothing:

This is how you start a child down the path of social anxiety, pain and dysfunction. You take something as innocent as a color choice and start suggesting there’s something wrong with him. The implication is that, because it’s a so-called girl’s color, he’s going to be gay when he grows up.

When I was a kid, I got hassled over the more old-fashioned stuff, like being overweight. I also kept believing in Santa Clause longer than the other kids my age. Being fat meant being damaged, unworthy of the same respect everyone else got. In high school, I used to watch teachers belittle students who dressed like hippes. The kids were drug-injecting wastoids as far as some of the teachers were concerned. I knew some who were, but I knew others who were not.

Make a kid feel stupid over how they look or what they wear and after awhile they’re probably going to start believing they are damaged goods.

I’m not going to let that happen to my kids without a fight.

Duncan can like whatever color he wants to like. If you have a problem with that, you can come talk to the boy’s ugly, still overweight Dad.

I’ll probably tell you you’re being shallow and judgemental. You’ve been warned.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how schools tend to deal with kids who are different. Kids like the one I used to be.

The school we send our kids to, a private Parochial school, is wonderful on many levels. My favorite thing about it is the other families who send their kids there. Many people who have become dear friends. Most importantly, the kids are getting a daily dose of God there, which is something Erin and I care deeply about.

But I see something there that bothers me. It’s something that’s a problem in a lot of schools.

It’s the sports mentality. The idea that the ONLY way to measure a kid’s potential is by how he or she does in sports.

My children are not much into sports. Both are more focused on art, science (especially Sean) and music (Duncan’s passion). Some might call that different. And because sports is such a huge deal in their school, I don’t think their talents are being put to the test as they should be.

Last year, Erin pitched the idea of a “Mad Scientist” program for kids who love science. The program would cost the school nothing and the principal expressed interest. Then it went nowhere. Kids like Sean lose out on this one.

But the sports. Oh, how the school loves its sports. The teams win big. And that is encouraged at all costs, even if it means only a quarter of the kids on a team get to play while those who “aren’t good enough” spend all their time on the bench. The goal is to win. If you’re not good enough to make that happen, you take a seat. Not the best way to challenge kids to reach their full potential, even if their potential doesn’t look like much to judgmental, competitive eyes.

This isn’t just a problem where my kids go to school. Everywhere you look, it’s all about the sports. The football team. The softball team. The hockey team. The basketball team.

Sure, sports are important. Sports bring out the best in many children, and can be as important an outlet for troubled kids as music, art and writing was and still is for me.

If a kid doesn’t want to do sports, so what?

If a boy likes the color pink, so what?

God made all colors for everyone to embrace, not just some for the boys and some for the girls.

Get over it.

battle_scars_by_eddietheyeti “Battle Scars,” by EddieTheYeti

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan Shimel November 9, 2010 at 3:50 am

Bill, both of my boys who are just a little older than your boys (9 and 11) love to wear pink. They think it is a great color and looks good on them. Also they are both into the whole “think pink” thing because of a friend of ours battling breast cancer. We encourage the boys to wear their pink and as far as I know, no one has said anything. But then again we live in Florida, wear louder colors are encouraged 😉

By the same token sports is even more fanatical here than up north. While both boys are crazy into sports, we wish they had other activities that were given the same resources.

Just keep them balanced and having fun. Everything else is not important!

Meredith November 9, 2010 at 4:26 am

Great post, Bill.

Kelly November 9, 2010 at 5:47 am

Really great post, Bill.

Victoria November 9, 2010 at 7:33 am

You hit the nail right on the head again Bill. There are so many stereotypes out there and so many people just itching to label kids. It’s true; it does negatively affect the kids that dare to follow their own dreams and not the ones society has made for them. I am currently taking a psychology course in college. The research shows detrimental effects on children who are made to believe they are “not ok” because they have different views. What a terrible thing to instill in innocent children! What’s the saying? “Real men wear pink?” Way to go, Bill. I am in complete agreement with you.

nancy casey November 9, 2010 at 10:08 am

Bill, I agree. If he likes pink, so what? He likes pink, if folks don’t like it, they can sit and spin.
Guess what, there is NOTHING in the Bible, Commandments,etc about boys not able to wear or like pink…I agree about schools too…God forbid we screw with the precious sports programs, but who cares about math,science, music, drama, arts, writing…screwy…but know what? As long as we the parents care we can change things..maybe slowly but we will get there…keep the faith and you and Erin have my total support on that! ::grins::

Renee November 9, 2010 at 10:48 am

Leave it to Duncan to swim up stream! The boy is a rebel who will simplify our complicated society by just being well…Duncan. Kudos to him for being himself because at the end of the day it is just a color and a happy one at that. So really, who cares what hat he wears as long as it makes him happy 🙂

John Spagnola November 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

In school, I make it a point to personally help the kids who are “different” according to the others…especially the freshmen. It bothers me that even though kids are so much more accepting than when we were students, that there’s always “those” kids, that can be made to feel alienated. I look forward to the new freshmen groups that come through the shop every couple of weeks.

Give Duncan a high five and tell him he’s a great kid. Then tell him it’s from the weird Graphics teacher.

Dan O'Leary November 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Pink is the color of universal love. Pink is a quiet color. Lovers of beauty favor pink. A pink carnation means “I will never forget you”.

Put some pink in your life when you want:

calm feelings
to neutralize disorder
relaxation
acceptance, contentment

Your Brother Dan

Lorita November 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Your post made me think of another one I read recently on a similar subject, about a woman whose son wanted to be Daphne from Scooby-Doo for Halloween. I think you’ll appreciate it:
http://nerdyapplebottom.com/2010/11/02/my-son-is-gay/

Andy Robinson September 25, 2011 at 3:48 am

I agree as well. I was teased all during school as much as the next husky kid who would rather draw with a pencil sticking out of his eye than sit through a football game. I know Duncan can use the support of his friends and family to not let the judgments plague him, but rather push him harder. In my observation, its not so much the football captains and head cheerleaders who become as successful as the kids who are at the “bottom of the hierarchy”.
And the color thing really aggravates me as well. Colors are awesome. I personally like rainbows. I know what its associated with today but, one social group can’t just claim refracted light. Rainbow are the symbol of God’s promise. (that’s in Genesis)

Kat November 5, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Actually, girls do get hassled for wearing blue, red, orange, or simply styles that aren’t ruffles and bows. I have lost count of the number of times my daughter has been assumed to be a boy because she is not in pink, or that my sister (whose favorite colors are orange and blue, and whose childhood hero was John Elway) was told she should pick a girl to be inspired by. (Not to mention the times I was told that math is for boys)

We do all of our children a disservice by gender-typing activities and objects, and I wish more people cared.

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