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The red backpack

August 28, 2011
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Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the pink backpack dilemma.  Between here and Facebook, I got a lot of support for getting it and also some great alternate ideas.  It almost made me wonder why I didn’t just get him the pink bag in the first place.  If Tea’s favorite color was pink and he’d been yearning for a pink backpack all summer, I wouldn’t have hesitated.  I was reluctant to let his off-the-cuff choice become something he’d physically wear on his back all year, and that could turn his identity into the “pink backpack boy” before he had a chance to make friends.  Especially since he didn’t tell me, “Because it’s my favorite color” or “Because pink is so pretty” or, well, any reason at all other than “Because”.

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We don’t steer Tea from “feminine” things to “masculine” ones – he’s done just fine determining his own interests and they run the gamut.   He enjoys playing with his dolls, trains, kitchen, and fire station.  He loves his dance class and has requested to start gymnastics (soccer was a bust).  The majority of his friends are girls, and sometimes they all put on princess costumes together.  He loves to snuggle.  He adores hunting for worms and watching construction equipment at work.   But Tea is pretty sheltered from pop culture.  He doesn’t watch TV.  He hasn’t been indoctrinated with the “Pink is for girls” message most boys get by his age.  It wouldn’t be fair not to let him know that picking pink might lead to some comments.

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Despite my misgivings, the comments I got from friends encouraged me to nurture his confidence to march to his own drum.  When Tea came home yesterday I told him I’d bought a red backpack but that I was going to return it to the store so that we could pick one out together.  Pink, if he liked, or whatever color he wanted.  Did that sound like a good plan?

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He asked to see the red backpack. His eyes popped out of his head.  I swear I had to pick two beautiful, slimy, sparkling eyeballs off the floor and stick them back in their sockets.  I rinsed them off first, because I haven’t swept in a few days.

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“Oh WOW!  Mama!  LOOK. AT. THIS!”

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He snatched the backpack from me and started investigating zippers and pockets and hidden compartments and straps.

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“Mama!  See HERE!…  Mama, look at the…look at the COOL RED!  Mama…Mama…Mama…I LOVE IT!  Mama!  Mama!  Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  Mama!”

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He was so excited he could barely finish his sentences.  He rushed to try it on and began strutting around the room.  I tried to get a word in edgewise: “I’m so glad you like it!  Will you go to the store with me?  We can look to see if you want to trade this one in for one you like even better?”

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“NO Mama!  I LOVE the RED one!  This is SO COOL!  PEA!  Look at THIS!  This is my BACKPACK, Pea.  I’m going to wear it to SCHOOL!  This is my COOL RED BACKPACK!”

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So….much ado about nothing.   I’m sure he’s going to roll his eyes at me about this when he’s old enough to read, but if nothing else, I’ve done a lot of thinking about supporting my kids in the choices they make.  This was not the soul searching I’d planned on when digging out the school supply list yesterday.  I had anticipated nothing heavier than the great “Crayola vs. generic crayons” debate (cheapskate notwithstanding, Crayola all the way!).  Pre-kindergarten is apparently going to teach me a few things, too.

Tea demonstrating his alternate- wearing method

so proud

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Courtney permalink
    August 28, 2011 11:56 am

    Awesome! Isn’t it so funny how we labor over things and then it turns out they weren’t as huge as we made them out to be in our minds? And I am still laughing about the rinsing off the eyeballs. You are too funny 🙂

  2. Mom permalink
    August 28, 2011 12:04 pm

    I am so proud of you. You probably noticed that I didn’t give you any advice on this one. I wouldnt have dodged a direct question, but this was your decision to make. Being willing to support your kids choices is the sometimes hard part pf being a parent i have a few regrets of my own. It’s always so easy to want for your kids what you would like.

  3. August 28, 2011 6:09 pm

    I’m glad he likes the red one so much, but pink would have worked out okay too in the end. Tell him I think he looks very cool with his new backpack.

  4. Kerrie Andrews permalink
    August 28, 2011 9:32 pm

    Loving the last photo! Now that’s one little boy who LOVES his backpack – regardless of the colour!!!!

  5. Hannah permalink
    August 29, 2011 8:11 pm

    Jesse did the same thing with his backpack today as Tea in the first photo! too funny. And sometimes you can’t avoid labels on kids. Every since kindergarten Ian has been the “long haired boy”. 🙂

  6. Michelle permalink
    September 1, 2011 9:35 am

    You are an amazing mother, straight up and fo shizzle! I love how much thought you put into what seem like simple choices. You really consider the impact of the little things and these kids are so lucky to have such amazing thoughtful parents. That is a cool backpack, but I would be so tempted to embellish it, much like everything else 😉

    Hope he has a fantastic first day!

    Mk

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