I had originally written this as a Facebook post in September 2015. It popped up as a memory the other day and I thought I would turn it into a blog post.
Two 8-year old boys and a 5-year old girl getting into the car …
We have two grey booster seats and a pink one in the van right now. Upon getting into the car, my daughter chose a grey booster seat, and one 8-year old boy chose the other grey car seat, this left the pink booster seat for the other 8-year old boy.
He did not want to sit in this booster seat. He said, “What boy would want to sit in a pink girl booster seat?”, despite hearing my regular statement that there is no such thing as a girl colour or boy colour many, many times in his life.
In response, the 8-year old boy sitting in the grey booster seat repeated the fact that there is no such thing as a girl colour. However, in the past, this boy has also complained about having to sit in the pink booster seat when there was a group of four boys in the car, which goes to show the peer pressure felt even at 8 years old.
The 8-year old boy sitting in the pink booster seat said, “I know, I know, but I don’t want to sit in it”, while climbing into it because we had to leave.
As we were driving I decided to take a stab at explaining why he should not even say that he thinks the pink seat is for girls – and my explanation actually really sunk in for the kids, so I thought I would share it here ….
I said that there are some boys who would love to sit in the pink booster seat, and if those boys hear two older boys saying that pink booster seats are for girls and that boys shouldn’t sit in them, then the boy who really in his heart wants to sit in a pink booster seat is going to feel bad. In his head, he is going to think, “wait, these older boys are saying that pink is for girls. There must be something wrong with me if I like pink. I better not let them know that I like pink.” And then that little boy will be very sad.
And we do have a little friend who is a boy who fights to sit in the pink car seat, so his name was raised in this conversation, which I think helped send the message home. Now the kids could imagine our little friend being sad.
When I got to camp and dropped the kids off, the 8-year old boy sitting in the pink car seat wanted to talk to me privately. I sent the other two kids into camp and sat down outside with him. He said he was really sad about saying that the pink car seat was for girls, that he felt like he was going to cry in the car about it. He hoped that no one else on the street heard him say that.
I said that feeling bad is a good thing, it means he really understood it, and now he can stop feeling bad and just make a rule for himself to never say that pink is for girls again. And that is perfect. That is what life is about. Learning lessons and becoming a better person.
Then he asked, “what if other boys at school say that to a kid?” And I said, “then you can be the one voice that stands out and says that you don’t agree with that, and you can say that there is no such thing as girl colours and boy colours.”
He asked, “what if there are a lot of other boys saying that pink is for girls and I am the only one saying that it isn’t?”
I said, “well, the boy they are talking to will hear your one voice and that will be enough – to know that he has one friend supporting him will make him feel better.”
He was worried about this, he asked, “what if the other boys beat me up for saying that?”
“That is where real strength comes in,” I said. “Having the courage to say that you disagree even though the other boys might not like that you are standing up to them. If you show the other boys that you are not afraid to stand up to them, then they lose a little bit of their power. And all the kids who sometimes feel picked on will know that you are a brave and kind person and they will want to be your friend.”
I love when, as a parent, you have an inspired moment with your children and the conversation that goes really well. I sure felt like a superstar this morning!