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More Reasons for My Smith College Diploma to be Revoked for My Failure to Toe the Feminist Party Line

alec vanderboom

I took my kids to Staples yesterday to load up on home-school supplies. They are so cute right now and so independent! Hannah (age 8), Alex (age 6) and Maria (age 4) each grabbed their own individual carts and had a blast browsing the sale racks for great finds. Afterwards, I was reviewing their selections to make sure that each item was truly in the $1 to $3 price range.

Each kid had gone with a color theme. Maria had chosen all pink: pink scissors, pink pens, a pink pencil case and a pink notebook. Alex had chosen all blue--except for one glaring exception. His notebook was a deep purple.

I struggled inside. "Do I say something, or let it go?"

I was raised with the firm social truth that "Gender is a construction in the mind, and a child's freedom of expression should trump 'outdated' social norms." Yet deep in my gut, I didn't like it. I decided "Well, I might be just a socially phobic jerk, but the truth is that I'm going to be totally embarrassed if my son's main notebook for school has a deep purple cover."

So I said something. "Er.....Alex, this notebook is purple. That's usually considered a girly color. Wouldn't you rather have a notebook in blue or red?"

My son looked deep into my eyes and said something that rocked my whole world.

"Mom, I thought it was deep blue. I wanted it to be blue. Sometimes I can't tell the difference between blue and purple."

This was light a lightening moment for me and the Holy Spirit, right there in the middle of the Staples aisle!

A ton of thoughts hit me at once.

First, my kid is color blind! Which I sort of suspected was happening between the colors red and green, but I never expected it to also be a confusion between purple and deep blue.

Second, there were all of these moments in the past where my son had chosen the purple candy, or the purple pencil--all these times when I assumed he was just a boy heavily influenced by having three sisters clustered in close proximity around him. But that wasn't the truth at all. My son couldn't see! Each time, he thought he was choosing the blue lollipop!

Third, it is clearly OKAY for me to be more bossy as a parent when it comes to color selection choices. Pink and purple are for girls. My son wants (and medically needs!) those type of leadership decisions from me.

I treasure that precious interaction with my son inside of Staples. Unless I tell the microscopic truth about myself, even embarrassing things like "I'm NOT cool with my son choosing a purple notebook", I miss out on so many things going on around me.