Intersections – The pink and blue divide
By Nicki Salcedo
I registered for blue crib sheets and spent my pregnancy cutting bows off maternity clothes. Every maternity shirt was pink and had a belt or a bow. The best thing I found was a black t-shirt with the word “Baby” bedazzled across the chest. Instead of bows, I begrudgingly wore rhinestones.
My tomboy habits didn’t end when I was a kid even though I wore a princess dress on my wedding day. Getting married didn’t change the things I liked or the things that I despised. So when I found out that I was having a girl, I picked out blue bedding.
I liked the blue sheets best because they were not pink. I have hated pink since I was a girl. I’ve always liked blue. Royal blue. Or red. Cherry red. I like neon if I must, but never pastels. Preparing for a baby was a nightmare.
My very Southern co-workers were taken aback at my registry.
“Aren’t you having a girl?” they asked.
What would happen to a girl baby who rested her head on blue sheets? Bless her heart. My hope was that she would sleep.
That same baby who slept on blue sheets eventually went through a pink stage. Pink tulle ruffled skirts and tops bedazzled for Dolly Parton concerts. I let her wear whatever she liked. Just like my mom let me wear overalls. I could see my mother cringe when I refused dresses, but she didn’t worry about me in jeans and in the dirt with my trucks.
The “girl builder” toy section of Target has troubled me for some time. But it did not bother my kids. My girls had LEGO choices like the pink ice cream parlor or purple karate studio or pink garage band. My son, bless his heart, would loop to the other aisle and stare at the Star Wars LEGO sets.
I never mentioned my anger at the pink and blue divide, because I’d already seen my daughter assemble the 400-piece Starfighter without any help. Every once in a while, when he thinks no one is looking, my son takes LEGO Darth Vader over to the ice cream shop. Just because you’ve gone to the Dark Side doesn’t mean you can’t grab a scoop with the LEGO ladies.
Everyone forgets how often the “boy” and “girl” toys like to play together.
Shoppers are again up in arms. Gender-neutral toys will cause the end of days. Wrong my friends. Third graders with recorders will bring the end of days.
My complaint about “the boy toys” (ha, ha) and “the girl toys” goes back to my childhood. My desire for the gender-neutral sections is so the LEGOs can be shelved together. As a parent, I need my kids to be on the same aisle. I go to Target for copious amounts of Febreze and LEGOs. Why this always ends up costing me $100, I’ll never know. I want my building boys and girls together. Pink and blue in harmony. Add some green and yellow for androgyny.
Until recently, I forgot about my blue baby sheets. No matter what the sign said, I did what I wanted. The pink-blue divide is arbitrary. Your British ancestors did the opposite and still found ways to wage war and make babies.
I’ve had three girls and a boy sleep on those blue sheets. After a few months with the first baby, I realized the color of the sheets don’t matter. I needed many sets of sheets for pee and poop and puke. At two o’clock in the morning when you need clean sheets in the dark, you really don’t care if they are pink and trimmed with rhinestones. Thank goodness they don’t put rhinestones on crib sheets.
There are naysayers about having gender-neutral toy and bedding departments at my favorite stores. This confuses me. Why is saying “kids” a political thing? I remember when I first heard that girls shouldn’t like “Star Trek” or Hess trucks. I can remember thinking that people who felt that way were idiots. Thirty years ago. Those naysayers only made me more confident in my choices.
Maybe we should gender divide all things. I spent a lot of time in my backyard as a kid. Let’s gender divide all the world and the toys and appliances in life and shame anyone who crosses the line.
Rocks are for girls. Two rocks look like breasts, so boys should not play with rocks anymore. Boys can have the sticks. Sticks, like penises, are good for pointing at things. Girls should not touch sticks. Pine needles for girls. Pine cones for boys. Girls get creeks. Boys get streams. Cows, girls. Pigs, boys. You are beginning to see the awesome logic.
Inside the house, vacuum for men. It sucks. Ladies get the blender. All blenders should be pink with bows. Vacuums should be blue and also make the sound of bagpipes. Mops and brooms, like sticks outside, go to men. Unfortunately, this leaves ladies with the sink and toilets, but men get the stove.
Thank you, Target. Those blue sheets from a decade ago served my family well. My kids are equally likely to burp and then giggle about it.
Now, to spite all of us, my daughter’s favorite color is orange. My son’s favorite color is currently purple. Strange words have no rhyme. Somehow I think both will grow up just fine.
“Intersections,” the book, is a collection of columns from Decaturish.com and beyond. It is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.