Girls Don’t Have to Love Pink, Daddy Says So!

We live in fascinating times when dads offer daughters a worthwhile lesson in pink. I was recently schooled in colors by a certain dad in the House of Obligatory Pink — Mommy-and-Me ballet class with my three-year-old daughter (who was wearing purple).

In an attempt to teach tempo, the ballet teacher handed out a rainbow assortment of ribbons for the children to dance with to the beat. The lone dad and his daughter happened to receive the royal blue ribbon. To my surprise, he acted as if she had been named Cinderella. He applauded the color’s beauty, extolling the history of royal blue, how it was the color of choice for princesses. Take Cinderella’s blue ensemble as proof! Judging by his emphatic eyes, it was his way of telling his daughter that girls could love any color–even blue. Translation: You can do anything a boy can, too!

How true. Now Mommipop Contributor Keith Harrington shares why he takes pride in raising a daughter who’d rather wear blue.

But She Is Fierce…Gwen Celtics

By Keith Harrington

When I pick up my kids on Fridays for my weekend time, we love talking. It’s a great time for us to catch up on the week and get a preview of the time we will be spending together. My daughter tells me about her recent spelling test, my son tells me a joke about a chicken or some other barnyard animal, and I talk about what movie we may want to choose for our Friday “movie night.”

The conversation flows, the usual hour drive seems to fly by, and you never know what topic will come up. That includes the recent conversation I had with my daughter about, what else, hip-hop from the 1980’s. (Wait. You DON’T talk with your second grader about old school hip-hop? Wow.)

I am raising a fierce daughter. A fearless girl that has opinions, is curious about life, wants to make changes in the world, and one who believes that anything is possible.

She informed me that some of the kids on the playground were trying to “beatbox” and she told them that none of them were as good as Doug E. Fresh. She told me she was shocked that her 7-year-old friends had never heard of “The Human Beatbox.” She then asked me if she was right in her assessment of her friends beatboxing skills. I said, “Well, it’s always good to encourage your friends to do their best. But, yes. Yes, you were.”

I am raising a fierce daughter. A fearless girl that has opinions, is curious about life, wants to make changes in the world, and one who believes that anything is possible. I have realized that while she will always be “my little girl,” trying to contain her as such is just an exercise in futility.

She is equal part sugar, spice, snails and puppy dog tails. She hates pink. She hates dresses. She hates anything that she classifies as “girly.” She doesn’t want to be a Disney princess; she wants to be Pluto. She also wants to be the first woman to play for the Red Sox.

In the spirit of full disclosure, she gets a lot of these contrarian ways from me. No doubt about it. I am not a huge fan of social norms. However, for a young girl, it can be a bit stressful. In a society that pushes “boys wear blue and girls wear pink,” I have a daughter who would not be caught dead in a pink Red Sox shirt. “It’s not what the players wear.”

She doesn’t want to be a Disney princess; she wants to be Pluto. She also wants to be the first woman to play for the Red Sox.

I am so happy with this though. Not because my kid likes my favorite team, but because she likes what she likes and doesn’t really care what others think. You can’t teach the importance of being comfortable in your own skin. I find sometimes that I could take some lessons from her.

However, sometimes she does struggle with it. Recently, there was a father-daughter dance at her school that she was very hesitant to tell me about. Not because she didn’t want to go with me. She didn’t want to wear a dress.

By the time she felt comfortable discussing this with me, it was too late for us to sign up. However, it was a good time to talk. I told her that I would have loved to have gone with her, and we could have found a nice outfit she was happy with. She felt relieved, as did I. I felt that I was building a bond with her that made her feel comfortable to come to me to discuss anything.

It’s because of this rapport that I have been able to be a voice of reason with her. With summer coming up, it means new summer clothes for growing kids. All of the stuff on the shelves is pink or purple or “too girly” for her.

I have a daughter who would not be caught dead in a pink Red Sox shirt. “It’s not what the players wear.”

I had to explain to her that there are no such thing as girl or boy colors, regardless of what the store sells. There are just clothes and those clothes are cut different for boys and girls because our bodies are built differently. That she has to wear what makes her happy. I encouraged her to pick her clothes that made her happy when she went shopping with her mother and not to pick clothes that she felt myself or her mother wanted her to wear. She again felt relief. I feel that being able to talk about these topics calmly and clearly will only help going forward because the conversations are only going to become more and more complicated.

It really baffles me sometimes though. I have a girl that is terrified of pink clothes, most vegetables, and having her fingernails cut before a bath but is absolutely fearless with everything else in life. It’s something that I am beyond proud of.

Like when she was hit by a ball during t-ball practice she told me she was fine because she just “rubbed some dirt on it” and that she was a “ball player.” Or how when she found out that when I was a kid my mom called me “Louie The Lip” when I would pout. She now calls me “Limbo Larry” which is usually followed by “over here.” As in “I wasn’t afraid of that like Limbo Larry over here.” Or when we were on a water ride and she saw a teenage girl on the ride hold a laptop bag over her head to try and protect it from getting wet. After the wave splashed over us, my daughter said: “Well that was pretty dumb by you.” Luckily the laptop was safe. The girl’s pride I can not speak for.

Gwen back hands up
Fearless daughter in action

As women across the world marched earlier this year, Gwen was watching with great interest. There were a lot of important women in her life that were marching, and because it was so close to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day she had an interest in peaceful protests. She was glued to the TV watching.

Seeing all of those women and men standing up and trying to be heard. She had just voted in the “Kids Choose The President” online. She was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and had pretty good reasoning for it. Not 7-year-old reasoning, but real issue-based reasoning. One of her reasons: “Well, we have had 44 boys as president. It’s time we should see what a girl should do.”

The weekend following the election, we talked about the election as I was driving her home. She was sort of upset but said you have to support the President and the United States. She also told me about one of her conversations at school and that someone asked her if she was going to be the first woman president. Gwen answered “no.” I asked why, and she said, “Well, by that time, I’d probably be the 5th or 6th woman President. And if that doesn’t happen, I can still play for the Red Sox.”

Keith Harrington is a former writer/producer at CNN, HLN and WMUR. He is the father of two and currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, and around Fenway Park.  You can reach him at productionstvk@gmail.com
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