Pretty purple sunglasses with a silver bow in the corner of the lens. Barbie splashed across the arms. These are the sunglasses Bang wanted when he was three. Purple was his favorite color (it has since changed to blue). What do you do when your three year old son wants pretty purple Barbie sunglasses? You buy them and you let him wear them proudly.
Picking out new toothbrushes, you point out various ones your nine year old son might like. Avengers. Thor. Ninja Turtles. Super Mario. Then he says he wants the purple Rainbow Dash toothbrush. Anyone with a young daughter probably knows knows all the My Little Ponies names by heart. So what do you do when your nine year old son wants a pretty purple Rainbow Dash toothbrush? You buy it and let him proudly brush his teeth with it.
Now and then as parents we are faced with dilemmas like these. Sometimes our kids want to break the stereotype that is little boys and girls. The rewards of allowing them this freedom are immeasurable. Pink is a color. It’s not just for girls as blue is not just for boys.
I wish the world could drop these stereotypes. We are not born with them, we are taught them. Whether they are about race, religion, gender, gender identity, or politics, they do nothing but hinder progress. I know the world won’t. Or at least not until the next great extinction. Or perhaps in a thousand years there will no longer be any single race. We will achieve just one race, the human race. For what can we achieve if our stereotypes precede us? Standards are set, expectations put into place. We judge and are judged by what we see on the outside.
Each one of us, big or small, from here to there, are living our lives as best we can. No matter if we’re boy or girl, man or woman. No matter how we identify ourselves. No matter which God, if any at all, we believe in. Once we realize that everyone we encounter has their own story to tell, has their own struggles and successes, we start seeing pieces of ourselves in them. We start seeing traits we have in common. If we look close enough we will find we are more alike than we are different. If only we take the time to look, not just see.
I am not naive enough enough to believe I can change the world. I am hopeful that I can be the change I want to see in the world. So if my boys want to wear pretty purple sunglasses and use pretty purple Rainbow Dash toothbrushes then I am Dad enough to allow them. Who am I to say now? Who am I to judge?