I’ve got sunshine

It’s been rainy, rainy, rainy.  A good thing, truly, as we’re in a drought, but that the rains should decide to come the week the boys are out of school is an unfortunate turn of events.  It’s winter break or something (I don’t know – there’s a holiday break, but then another week long break later in winter, which is confusing) and the poor kiddos have been trapped in the house.  On top of that, Nora got sick and had a series of bad asthma attacks, so we’ve had quite the week so far.

Nora’s fine now, though, and on top of that, the sun came out and this lovely golden yarn arrived in the mail from Sarah!  It’s nice when life turns around when you need it to.  I’m up for more rain as long as we get the occasional break to run out to the park.

I’ve been working on the sleeve of Liam’s Tomten.  I had forgotten how much longer the sleeves take on a Tomten that I expect.  Somehow I’d expected to bang out a sleeve an evening and be done with it, but it’s a little slower going than that.  I’m almost done with the first sleeve, though, and I had an idea for the second sleeve.  Possibly a bad idea, but an idea that may be worth a try.

My two skeins of Wool of the Andes were just enough for the torso of the jacket as well as the pocket linings, and I’ve been considering colors for the i-cord edging or mitered garter edge.  I need something to contrast with the bright green and the powder blue, but also something that won’t look, well, bad.  I narrowed the possibilities down to a goldy yellow or an orangey red, and then I mentioned them to Liam.

And he wants pink.

Now, I’m not anti-pink-for-boys, but I think pink would look awful with the colors I’ve used, and I am anti-that.  On the other hand, it’s his jacket.  And he’s a sweet, adorable seven year old boy who carries a sparkly Hello Kitty backpack to school, who thinks that pink is a beautiful color, and who wants a jacket with a rainbow on it.

It’s funny how mixed I feel about these things.  He’s an unselfconscious little person by nature, but he’s getting to the age where other kids notice when you don’t confine yourself strictly to the gender expectations they’ve laid out, and I’ve already seen (and glared at) little boys sniggering at his backpack as he walks by.  Liam’s autism is actually something of  a blessing in that instance, because he tends to read that sort of response as interest, and he will generally walk up and explain that his backpack is sparkly and has Hello Kitty on it, and that he likes it.  But when he understands that people are laughing at him, he’s very, very hurt, and it’s painful to see him hurt.  I don’t want other children to take away his love of pink or cats or rainbows based on stupid, stupid gender roles (I mean, who decided that pink was girly, or that boys can’t love cats, and who doesn’t love to see a rainbow??) but I also don’t want his differences to be exaggerated when I know he’s starting to become self conscious about them.

Le sigh.

It’s not really a big problem, but when I have visions of sending my little guy off to school, happy with his new jacket, and seeing him come home in tears, all of a sudden it seems like a very big deal.  Talk me down, please!  I mean, it’s just a color, right?

10 Comments

  1. travellersyarn

    I think it sounds like a valid concern, and maybe you can do something like make him a pink badge? I would be worried that a lovely rainbow jacket become unwearable if there is derision directed at it, and you serve to have it worn!

  2. Your boy sounds like the most awesome kid ever, and I would hate to see that quashed by other children. It’s a little frightening that these other kids have already been brainwashed into a heteronormative colour chart. You could try telling him to explain that until the 1930s pink was a ‘boy’ colour because it’s watered-down red (the colour of Aries, god of war) and blue was a ‘girl’ colour because it’s calming and delicate. The only reason it changed was because of a momentary redirection in French fashions (which influenced American fashion choices). Unfortunately, the war came and there wasn’t enough communication overseas for the Americans to catch that pink was the new blue for boys, so it stuck.

    In any case, if you’re anti-bad colour combo, maybe promise a different project that can be as pink as he likes while this one stays with the orangey-red (as a compromise)?

  3. Jy

    Pink is the colour of a glorious sky in August sunset.
    Pink is the throat of a fish with silver scales.
    Pink is the shade of a child’s 10 fingernails.
    Pink is what you see when you shut your eyes and face the sun.

    Liam has every right to be in a pink mood 🙂

  4. Kate

    Can you do the trim as an applied i-cord after the fact?

    Then Liam can know that while his color choice is good and right, you’ve made it so it can be changed if he’d rather not deal with the other people not liking it after he’s worn it a couple of times.

    I think this is so much worse for boys — I wore blue and green and “boy” colors right through elementary school and no one ever said anything.

  5. Liam sounds like an awesome kid- it is so refreshing that he walks to the beat of his own drummer! While I understand the desire to protect his feelings, I think it is also important to nurture his self expression and teach him that it is ok to be himself no matter what other kids think. This might be a bit difficult/different since he has autism (I have no personal point of reference as far as that goes).

    Last year, after I knit my Amelia hat, my son wanted one to wear to his Boy Scout Camping trip, except he wanted braided ties on his. Of course, I knit it for him, but when he put it on I thought to myself, “Man, those boys are going to give him hell for wearing a bonnet!” He thought it was so cool though and I kept my opinions to myself. Fast forward to the campout and one little boy started picking on him and asked him why he was wearing a girl’s hat. My son stated that it was NOT a girl’s hat because it was made just for him and he was a boy, then informed the kid that it was actually an aviator’s hat. He didn’t care what that kid thought of his hat because he liked it and that was all that mattered to him.

    I say arm Liam with all the “pink is cool” info you can and knit his sweater just the way he wants it. As parents we want to protect our children from hurt feelings, but truth be told, the sooner they learn that it is more important to be oneself than to worry what others think, the better. There are always going to be mean kids out there, don’t let fear of what they might say squash that awesome kid!

    It is, after all, just a color!

  6. Honestly, I would think that the rainbow on the jacket is going to attract more attention than any i-cord edging, pink or not. And if he’s already got a sparkly Hello Kitty backpack…personally, I would just do the edging in pink. It seems like a pretty subtle departure from normativity. Though, I am way out of touch with what’s a big deal in the elementary-school set these days.

  7. Maybe an orangey-pink? There’s always duplicate stitch if he changes his mind. And there was a NY Times article about how pink (and skirts!) are all over the men’s runways. Sweet Liam. I just want to cheer for kids like him and give a swift kick to the parents of the mean ones who haven’t been taught that it’s unacceptable to run down peers who choose different forms of expression. A friend has a second-grader who hasn’t yet decided whether he wants to be a boy or a girl, and often chooses feminine clothing and girl characters to role-play. I’m thankful the dear little guy is in a family and a school community that loves him as a creative, expressive, delightful kid and I pray he continues to grow the strong sense of self and confidence that he’ll surely need to swim against the stream. I hope the same for Liam, and I know his family is giving him the best possible start.

  8. We just had the pink discussion in our house a few weeks ago. My boys get hand me downs from their older cousin and one of the items that came in the recent box was a pink dress shirt. My oldest (10) just had a fit–he wasn’t going to wear PINK. My eight year old who has autism, couldn’t care less, so he wore the shirt to church last week and when the lady in front of us turned around, she smiled at my pink clad little boy and told him he was the handsomest child at mass. Of course Matthew didn’t respond, but the older one was a little miffed that no one noticed him.

    I do hear you on the age appropriate/gender appropriate issues and share your pain. It is hard when your child who sees the world so very differently (Matthew loves Teletubbies, Buzz Lightyear and carries a Buzz Lightyear backpack to school) has to meet head on the ridiculous boundaries that limit our self expression. Most 8 year old boys would die before admitting a love of Teletubbies, but then again I just sort of smile, because most 8 year olds can’t watch it in Polish, French, Spanish and Czech and understand it.

    We hurt for our very special boys when others ridicule them, but these are hard lessons they have to learn. Hard for us as well. But better they learn them now, with us close by to offer our love and support, than later in life when we might not be there to hold their hand.

    Make the added i-cord border in pink, like Kate said. It is Liam’s jacket after all. If it becomes a problem, you can take it off and do another color.

  9. orata

    Poor Liam, how heartbreaking that other kids are laughing at his Hello Kitty bag.
    You know, though, doing just the edging in pink doesn’t seem nearly as noticeable as a whole jacket. Especially since the jacket also has blue on it. I would add the pink i-cord if he seems really set on it. (I assume he won’t just forget about the request if you ask him later…)

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