I don’t mean to alarm my fellow Angelenos, but I feel it is my duty to warn residents that another gang rivalry has emerged here in Los Angeles — the intensity of which we haven’t experienced since the peak of the Bloods versus Crips rivalry of the ’70s and ’80s. Only instead of wearing red and blue to promote their gang affiliation, these new gangs wear blue and — this part may be most frightening of all — PINK.
At least that’s what my three-year-old, pink-wearing gang member of a daughter tells me. Because according to her, most everything comes down to Boys versus Girls, or Blues versus Pinks. There can be no sharing of certain colors, no mutual appreciation for Hello Kitty stickers. Skye has drawn the line in the sand(box), and heaven help her 14-month-old brother and father if they dare to cross it.
“NO! THIS IS FOR GIRLS!” she scolds her little brother, snatching a pink phone out of his little hands. Drew does his best to represent on behalf of his crew, retaliating by hitting her on the arm and flashing me a What the f*ck, I had it first?! look. I handle the potentially volatile situation by mollifying Skye with her gang’s known figurehead: Tinkerbell.
“Here, play with this instead,” I say, offering the doll as part of our truce negotiations.
“Okay,” she shrugs, dropping the phone.
Phew. My master conflict resolution skills have helped us avoid further gang confrontation. I can’t help but push my luck, however, and dig deeper to the heart of the matter in hopes of ending this rivalry once and for all.
“Pink can be for boys, too, you know,” I gently suggest.
“No way! Pink is for girls, purple is for girls and blue is for BOYS!” Skye asserts with a knowing eye-roll. The subtext of which is obvious: I am an idiot for suggesting otherwise.
How did we get here? I wondered. Mr. Candy and I had done our best to discourage a “Girls vs. Boys” mentality, introducing all kinds of toys and colors and a mostly gender-blind attitude into our kids’ lives. Yet here was my daughter, claiming ownership over pink and refusing to let my husband and son walk down the stairs with us because “JUST GIRLS!” are allowed. Had Mr. Candy and I unknowingly encouraged this somehow? Did gender-based product marketing play a part? Or her friends at preschool? Could I find a way to blame this on the Kardashians?
The next day, I join Skye and her preschool classmates for a few minutes of Circle Time. We are learning catchy rhymes to remember our colors. (I was in need of a refresher course, anyway.)
“Purple, purple, purple, draw a… CIRCLE!” the teacher and kids declare in unison, outlining a circle in the air with their purple signs.
Well, isn’t this cute? I thought.
“Purple — that’s a good color for GIRLS to know!” the teacher smiled.
Well, isn’t this a crock? I thought.
Skye starts a new preschool in a couple of weeks, so I didn’t make a fuss about the teacher encouraging such ridiculousness. Instead, I flashed my son’s best What the f*ck?! look at her, as any good passive-aggressive parent would do, and tried a new tack with Skye later.
“Do you wanna see what we got Daddy for his birthday?” I asked. She nodded excitedly.
“Look! It’s a PINK shirt!”
Skye narrowed her eyes. A men’s shirt that comes in pink? How could this be?
“I want to see him in it NOW!” she declared approvingly.
Which is how Mr. Candy ended up with a pink shirt for his birthday:
Hereafter known as the “Good Luck Shirt” because this may just be the first picture I’ve taken of the three of them where they are all smiling and not, you know, crying or crossing their eyes or picking their noses (yes, I’m talking about YOU, Mr. Candy).