Last year, I wrote about how my smaller boy loves pink and bemoaned the lack of sparkly things for boys, and delighted that he was confident enough to ask for what he wanted despite waitresses or people in shops suggesting that surely he didn’t want the PINK one.
He’s moved away from pink now, and often comments on things that “girls have”, while making me tea from the toy kitchen. He’s OK with that, as long as he can sneak a few episodes of Peppa Pig or Sofia the First from time to time.
These days he lives with a little girl, his younger sister, his partner-in-crime. He decides that she should “have the pink one” of everything, she usually acquiesces, although some days she demands any other colour just to annoy him. They’re well met.
Being the adored baby sister of two rambunctious boys I guess I presumed that my small girl would have little interest in “girl toys” but would happily play with cars and dinosaurs and space ships with her big brothers.
Readers, I was wrong. So wrong. So, so wrong. This one was wired pink.
Now, she can dress up as a power ranger with the best of them, and whack with a hurl in a way that makes her uncles proud. She once refused to wear a dress to a birthday party in favour of her Wexford jersey, but these are the exceptions that prove the rule for this small girl.
My small girl is tough as they come and well able to stand her ground, but she is the girliest girl I’ve ever known (although my sister Gráinne comes very close). This two-year-old requests dresses and tights to wear pointing out what does and doesn’t match. She oohs and ahhs when pink plastic things come on TV and drags me from room to room to see. She decided in September that she wanted a “rainbow pony” for Christmas.
Despite growing up in a male-dominated house she seems to instinctively choose girlie things without any direction. Bows in her hair are essential accessories, she can’t go out without her handbag, or her bright pink schoolbag (she doesn’t go to school). In a friend’s house recently she opened an older girl’s jewellery box and her face lit up at the toy jewellery and makeup in it. When asked what her uncle should buy her for Christmas she replied “a pwetty dress” and her brothers looked on horrified, planning an interverntion, as she confirmed that she didn’t want a toy just a pretty dress. (She knows that her new auntie has great taste and will help her uncle choose).
Then there was the time I brought her shoe shopping for a sensible pair of boots. She was shaking with excitement at the prospect of getting boots. Then, when the lady opened one box which contained boots so pink and glittery and sparkly that I expected Barbie on a unicorn to fly out, she looked, put her hands up to her cheeks and smiling said “WOWWWW”. We bought the boots, how could I say no? She delights in showing people “See mine pink farkly booties”. They couldn’t miss them.
I do all the stuff you’re supposed to do with little girls to raise them balanced and confident. I encourage her to get just as messy as her brothers, to shout as loud, to climb, to run as fast. I tell her that she’s beautiful, and strong, and kind and funny. She looks at me and says “I your Princess Mam?”. “You sure are chicken, my best one”.
She is a girl.
A mostly girlie girl.
She wants to be a princess or maybe a power ranger or a pirate, or all three at once. She’s two.
She also wants to play hurling and whack her brothers indiscriminately and watch Paw Patrol and ride a bike and build very tall towers with Lego (preferably Lego that her brothers were just playing with).
Before I had a daughter I used to be very “right-on” about princesses and all they represented. When she was born I loved the idea of pink but as she got older I started moving away from it, dressing her in navys and greys. I bought her more gender-neutral coloured toys. I was so anti-pink. I thought that the whole pink thing was awful and was all about marketing. I really don’t think that little girls need the option of a pink everything, or a pink anything really.
But, and this is the important bit, I do think that we should give pink-loving children a break. It seems to be almost cool to be a boy who likes pink, or a girl who likes football, we should be supporting ALL the children, in ALL the choices that they make. Even if it’s for a pink plastic princess.
Can’t we let our girls be girlie if they want to be?
Can’t we ALL like pink and princesses, even girls?
Can’t we let it go? (Sorry)