I never thought I would say this, but I genuinely dread the day when Isaac comes home and says that pink is no longer his favourite colour. It’s not that I think it should be, but more because it will mark yet another milestone in his development from toddler to boy to grunting, monosyllabic teenager – the shedding of another layer of innocence as the social norms of the real world start to mould him into the man he will become.
Those of you who know our elder son will be familiar with his obsession with the colour pink. What we thought at first would merely be a harmless passing phase – to go along with his Angelina Ballerina phase and his Kylie Minogue phase – shows no signs of abating. Ask him what colour he would like anything in, and as sure as the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening he will give the same response. What colour car would he like? Pink. (He gets very excited whenever we drive past the pink Smart car at the end of our road.) What is his favourite item of clothing? His pink jumper. What is his favourite snack treat whenever we go to Tesco? A doughnut with pink icing, naturally. Who is his favourite singer? Actually it’s Rihanna, although he is also partial to the musical stylings of Pink.
It truly does go beyond a mere preference to the point of being a genuine obsession. When he first became interested in sticking things together a year or so ago – for several weeks, I couldn’t sit down anywhere in the house without ending up with glitter glued to my trousers – the first thing he asked me to do one morning when we were messing about with Powerpoint (Zac obsession number two: any technology that produces words, pictures and music, preferably with a touch-screen) was to help him produce a collage of pink images. Hence the home-made poster below which includes most of his favourite things of that time, namely Angelina, Lily Allen and cars.
When we bought him his own Christmas tree for his bedroom last December, he naturally insisted on decorating it with pink – and only pink – baubles.
Let him wander through a shopping centre and, like a moth to a flame, he will inexorably be drawn towards a shop with something pink in its window. In a shoe shop he will home in on pink shoes, particularly if they are sparkly. And he once dragged me into La Senza – I swear this is 100% true – picked up a pink bra off the rack and said to me, “Daddy, can I buy this one?”
In many ways, it’s an endearing trait. We have neither encouraged nor discouraged him in forming what is very much an expression of his own personal preference – it is all nature, not nurture. It may be something that he grows out of naturally over time, or it may stay with him forever. I genuinely don’t mind either way.
What I fear, though, is that at some stage – probably when he moves up to primary school next year – he will be forced through peer pressure to abandon his preference for something more ‘normal’. That pressure is inevitable, and I am sure it will manifest itself in many other ways too as the laws of the playground start to impose themselves upon him. When that day occurs, and he comes home from school crying because some older boys have picked on him for wearing his pink bracelet, I really hope he has the strength to make his own mind up and not conform for the sake of conforming. But that’s a lot to ask of a three or four-year old, isn’t it?
Regardless, if – make that when – the fateful event occurs, it will be a sad day. Once those first layers of innocence have been peeled away, the floodgates will have been opened and our boy will learn that people will always judge others by their preferences, and that in some eyes there will always be certain characteristics which are prejudicially deemed ‘wrong’ or ‘gay’ or somehow different-and-therefore-not-right.
I know it is inevitable. I know we cannot protect our children from harsh reality forever. And I know it is just the beginning (or end) of another chapter in the growing-up process. But a little part of me will die on that day too. Much though I joke about it, he really is quite pretty in pink.
You’re really free like individuality
You are what you want to be
Pretty in Pink – The Psychedelic Furs