Pink is the colour, football is the game

pink welliesWhen no.1 son was maybe three or four years old, Mrs TL took him to Toys ‘R Us to buy some wellington boots. They were walking each day to and from nursery and our north-western climate guaranteed plenty of puddles to splash in.

Faced with a shelf of cartoon-branded boots, no.1 son had no hesitation selecting the pair for him. He carried the sparkly pink boots to the check-out, where the cashier said, “Now, they can’t be for you, can they.”

“Yes, they’re mine,” came the correction.

Unaffected by social conditioning, no.1 son wore the boots happily for a term or two. But soon enough, we found the boots with ink scrawled across them, as though he had tried to strike out their unacceptable appearance. Our society’s arbitrary allocation of colour to gender had caught up with him.

Our daughter picked up the family’s pink baton (and probably the boots) with clothing, toys and accessories in the many shades available. This persisted until the age of six, when given a new bedroom and the choice of pink trainerswall colour, she opted for.. blue. Pink still features in her palette but it has faded.

No.2 son has always been more conventional in colour choice. The primary school lost a much loved teacher to breast cancer. To mark her contribution to the school and raise money for a cancer charity, the school has an annual Pink Day. Mrs TL had the hardest time trying to find anything pink that he would agree to wear to reception class, settling with a ribbon on his school bag.

On the one hand, the arbitrary opposition by gender, blue versus pink, is ridiculous. I think I have read it swapped over at some point in the first half of the last century. On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why children go along with it, rather than attract their peers’ comment and attention.

I don’t think I have seen a junior football team playing in pink kit. Were I to see one, I would admire their flouting of convention, but worry for their player recruitment. The first time no.2 son went to a mini-tournament with other clubs, his side had a match with another team wearing red shirts. Our coach had the bag of bibs and handed out six pink vests. The boys looked at each other, perhaps recognised that none could ridicule another, and put them on. Next to me, behind one of the goals, a dad sighed as though jabbed in the gut, “Ooh. They’re a goal down already.”

Then this Christmas, things have come full circle. Both boys wanted football boots. Mrs TL took notes on preferred brands and models, searched the internet and placed orders. When no.1 son’s pair arrived, I queried if they had been the type he had specifically requested. She confirmed they were. And so on Christmas morning, no.1 son once again became the proud owner of pink boots.

pink boots

Poor weather has meant the boots are yet to make their competitive debut. But we did have a kick-about with my Touchline Pal and his son. On seeing the boots, my friend said to no.1 son, “They’re nice. You’ll have to play well in them, you know.”

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16 Comments

Filed under kit and caboodle, young shoulders

16 responses to “Pink is the colour, football is the game

  1. judithkingston

    Brilliant! Reminds me of Stephanie’s son (from Beautiful Misbehaviour), who chose a pink lunch box and when the lady at the check out said: “Are you sure? We’ve got some with dinosaur’s on”, he said: “It’s just a colour.” I loved that response.

    But you’re right that although it is just a colour, it also has undeniable societal associations that are hard to shake. Let’s hope your son manages to walk that line and carry on flouting convention!

  2. Fantastic, I love the pink footballl boots. I think we are much more affected by the gender issues than children are – to them it’s just a colour. #MagicMoments
    http://www.myfamilyfever.co.uk

    • There are so many variables governing their reaction. I remember wearing a colourful shirt with a flower design and my younger son (then 4) saying, “Daddy, you is a girl.” Thank you for the visit and comment.

  3. Great post, my boys go through phases of thinking they can carry off something with pink and times when they say no way. It is all a state of mind and how confident they feel, society has a lot to account for! #magicmoments

  4. My son LOVES pink, he insisted on using his sister’s old pink potty for potty training, and currently is sporting hot pink toe nails after he saw me painting mine. I think we have such a hang up about pink, when in fact, 100 years ago, pink was actually a “male” colour. it’s just another colour to me (I like it) and I say go with the pink! Popped over from Magic Moments!

  5. I love it, my son wanted a pink potty and my colour fixated hubby hit the roof .. it made me so sad. I am so pleased your son has a developed maturity .. maybe he can have a word with my hubby??

    thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x

  6. It’s a shame when some things get so unnecessarily bound up with gender, and notable that no one seems to mind if a girl loves blue, only if a boy shows any hint of an interest in something pink!

  7. Colette B

    Funny my little boy has never shown any interest in pink – and in fact neither has his little sister though I’m sure they day will come!

  8. sarahmo3w

    Love this post. Only the coolest boys can carry off pink boots. My kids were sniggering the other day at a men’s team playing in pink at the same park as my son was playing. I must say I admires their bravery.
    My daughter, like yours, has grown out of pink. We still have pink Converse, but she has a green bedroom and very little pink in her wardrobe. This kicked in just as she turned 7 and I quite miss it!

  9. I love that there are pink football boots – it feels like an ironic two fingers to the whole issue 🙂

  10. ameliagraceuk

    That is a fascinating poin I adore it, Enjoy your child’s flexibility from colour hindrances There are such a variety of variables representing their response
    football games

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