It all started when we tried to buy my daughter a bicycle for her fourth birthday. Oh, who am I kidding. It started when we found out we were pregnant with my daughter even though we wouldn’t know she was a “daughter” until the day of her birth. Waiting to find out the sex of your child is pure torture for your family and friends, and I highly recommend it. We wanted to be surprised, and we didn’t want our entire world to turn pink or blue just yet.
Five years can make quite a difference in the world of baby gear. Gender neutral for our first pregnancy meant a lot of ducks. Like a lot. I’m not sure who decided that baby ducks were equally appealing to little girls and little boys, but their lack of imagination annoys me to this day. Today the options are much more trendy and much less ornithological. Nevertheless, we successfully navigated a pregnancy without knowing the gender of our child. But as soon as she was born, shades of pink dominated our lives and her wardrobe.
To be fair, I like pink. I did ballet as a kid, played with Barbies, pretended to be a Disney princess, and in many regards followed traditional gender roles, and sometimes stereotypes. And I don’t think I am totally ruined as an adult. But don’t we all look at parenting as a chance to do better? To create a better version of ourselves? So, I decided that I wanted my daughter to play sports in addition to dancing ballet. I wanted her to realize that pink and purple, hearts and ice cream, sweetie and cuties, did not have to dominate her closet. I wanted her to aspire to be more than a princess, to be the hero of her own story.
Back to the bike. My daughter wanted nothing more than a “big girl bike” for her fourth birthday. And do you know what I learned? It is almost impossible to get a bike for a girl that isn’t pink or isn’t decorated with a princess or a Barbie. And it really frustrated me. Unless we were willing to drop an inappropriate amount of money for a child’s bike, our options were pink or pink and purple. I would have been happy to see ducks. My frustration rose to a boiling point when an associate at Walmart saw her gleefully riding a red bike, perfect for any child, and said to her, “Sweetie, don’t you want a girl’s bike?”
At the tender age of four, my daughter’s options should not be so dramatically limited. What I want for her is exactly the same thing I want for my other two children, both boys. I want her to be able to choose who she wants to be in this world. Maybe who she wants to be is a pretty princess who wears nothing but tulle and pearls. But maybe she wants to be a construction worker. Maybe she wants to be an athlete who rolls her eyes at the thought of wearing a dress. And maybe, and most likely, she will want to be a combination of all of these things, because aren’t we all a little complicated?
So, that’s the problem with pink. It’s just not enough. I want all of the colors of the rainbow for her. I want ballerinas and Ninjas and ballerina Ninjas. My daughter will have plenty of time to choose who she wants to be in life, so for now I am perfectly happy watching her in a muddy tutu ride her red bike down the street.