This morning I asked Tea what color backpack he wanted (because school doesn’t start for 5 more days and I plan ahead like that). Without hesitation, he said “Pink!”
He has never, ever shown any interest in anything pink. While I was trying to think of the best way to respond, I must have looked concerned, because he asked, “What, Mama, is pink only for girls?”
“Well, Sweetie, pink can be for anyone, but *usually*, boys don’t have pink backpacks. If you have a pink one, I’m afraid some of the other kids might tease you or be mean about it.”
(Very matter-of-factly) “That’s ok. I want pink.”
“Are you sure? Why pink?”
“I just want a pink one.”
“Um…do you want to see pictures of different backpacks on the computer to help you decide?”
(click click click) I brought up a page with all different colors of backpacks.
“Ooh – Mama – that pink one there. That’s what I want.”
(inner sigh) “If you *really* want pink I can get it for you but I am afraid someone is going to hurt your feelings if you have a pink backpack.”
We talked in circles like this while I kept glancing at Kyle for input. He shrugged and suggested to Tea that maybe I “wouldn’t be able to find pink”. In that case, Tea said he wanted a red one.
So I had an out. But I felt terrible about the thought of lying to him. I wanted choosing his own backpack to be part of the excitement of getting ready to start school. I have no problem with him having a pink backpack, but I am stuck with two conflicting feelings. I want to protect him from the world. He’s only 4 and he’s my baby. Alternately, I hate making him think he made a bad choice or that there’s something wrong with him liking pink.
The subject was dropped with a “We’ll see what I can find at the store” and 10 minutes later Tea came up to me and said, “Mama, you can get me a red one. I don’t want you to be sad if I come home from school and tell you someone hurt my feelings.” Ouch. He was much more mature and grown up about the whole thing than I was – he clearly changed his mind for me, not himself.
So today was a Big Parenting Fail. I came home from the store with a red backpack. I wish I had been brave enough to get him the pink one he wanted. I haven’t cut the tags off yet. Maybe I’ll change my mind.
What would you do?