Friday, February 6, 2015

Family...Colour Blind

I want to talk about colour and more specifically being colour blind but not the eye condition. I was thinking a couple of weeks ago about the colour pink. Because Youngest One loves it especially Disney pink and I have been trying to avoid it. The irony is that in its deepest hues this is the colour I love best. I particularly love fuchsia pink and any dark shade of pink after that. Purple is a favourite especially as my birthstone is amethyst which was requested as part of my engagement ring. That amazing shade of red that is on those heels, again thanks to my lovely husband I have a pair of those. The rich yellow that signifies gorgeous butter and a lovely 50's style dress I have. Green grass colour followed by its vivid cousin bright luminescent green. Cobalt blue, the colour of the sea and a particularly lovely coat I have. Can you see where I am going yet?

Black was my go to colour for years including at weddings and I love its simplicity. I was a Goth for a while, best phase ever, but I wasn't like other goth girls. I didn't do pointy shoes, lacy dresses a la Stevie Nicks in her late Fleetwood Mac stage - we are talking late 80's/early 90's here. I did wear blood red lipstick, still a favourite and occasionally crimp and back comb my hair. I even had boyfriends who used to come to our house armed with crimpers and gin and tonic but that's another story. I wore doc marten boots, chains around them, fingerless gloves with more chains, always trousers and tops in dark hues of black, purple, red. I had an amazing satin coat that had gold striped lining and bright rainbow coloured glasses. This was my Dad's favourite phase of my late teenage years. I had my hair in all colours too. 

Obviously time marched on and the phases changed, there was the floral ironic Smiths phase after they had split up and Morrissey releasing his first debut album. The girl in Every Day is Like Sunday could have been me! The athletic California phase with button fly jeans and high tops. The hippy phase with nefarious goings on at Glastonbry Tor. The working in Libertys phase coincided with Mature Student phase at 21. Then proper work phase. This often involved trying to work out what to wear whilst looking different and barely succeeding. I was quite subversive by having piercings in odd places - which doesn't seem so subversive now. I was desperate to break out but in the staid business world I worked in that wasn't the done thing. I got into burlesque at this time and have a few corsets to prove it. The phases that kept coming back; Surfer Girl, Goth, Snowboard Lady and what I like to call the Magpie phase. Then came the Stay at Home Wiping phase which involved not much sartorial splendour. I am still in this phase though I am re-emerging hence the pink hair. I'll mix colours or not. I'll wear three different colours with an additional colour in my hat. I want purple hair next and I'll  probably get shit for it. The funny looks, the fake "love your hair", "aren't you adventurous". This long lesson in my colour choices leads me to this. 

I am teaching my kids the meaning of being colour blind and not being a sheep where you can. Obviously the one we want to teach them is to be colour blind towards others, people are people no matter creed, colour, sexuality and all manner of life choices. When we had Oldest One I couldn't believe that clothing and shoe choices for boys were limited to blue, blue, blue, khaki, more blue and occasionally red. I adored H&M for their funky brightly coloured kids clothes and looked out for bold colours. I still can't stand the blandness of boys shoes and clothes. Where were the bright boots and shoes for them? Similarly since having had Youngest One the huge range of pink tones and cream - ghastly colour for kids clothes - makes me shudder. I sought out the brights, stayed away from the branded clothes, kept some of Oldest Ones clothes and dressed her in them. She rocks stompy doc marten boots, leggings, skirt, frozen tshirt and multi coloured tops just as Oldest One rocks stompy boots, long shorts, bright tops and hoodies. Both of my kids love colour, Youngest One tells everyone I have pink hair, Oldest One often chooses my hair colour!

I am acutely aware of the difference in toy stores of boys and girls segregated toys and wish that manufacturers would sort this out. I don't like the new girls lego not because it's disney etc but because I don't like the figures they use, why change the original? Why make bows and arrows in pink when in the woods you'd be picked off quicker than a deer as there'd be no hiding you. I want my kids to be who they are even if I don't like the disney princess pink or yucky blue. Because this isn't about me. Oldest One has been out in gold sequins and a Spider-Man mask. The clearly odd looks from adults riled me until we walked past a group of teenage skateboarders. I was ready to defend at all costs. Then they turned round en masse and said "Wow look, Spider-Man in sequins. Cool." I could have kissed them all. So here comes the crux of all this. 

Forgetful parent that I am, I kept forgetting to buy new swimming goggles. Today I finally rushed to that well known orange supermarket who found me the only pair of googles for about £2. Speedo ones too. The joy. They are bright yellow and purple. "Bollocks to it, they'll do" I thought even though I had a slight doubt mostly because I wasn't sure if he'd like the colours.

Swimming seems to go fine. Goggle success. Home time looms. Oldest One in a foul mood. He's had a shite day. Finally he tells me that some kids in his class have been calling him names because of the goggles. "You're a girl", "those goggles belong to girls", "you look like a girl" blah blah blah. He was feeling awful and really upset as these were fricking cool goggles. Guess who this name calling came from? Girls that's who. Bloody bitchy girls. It could have so easily been boys that did this which sadly I would have expected but girls! Really? On top of all this Oldest One has been coming home from school lately saying such and such is "too girlish" and "only boys can do that" so that I have had to remind him that his mum and sister are girls and there is nothing that we can't do or wear or be. I was fuming when I heard about this crap from his class mates. Sure kids can be mean and that sucks. But so young? And about colour too?

Since when did colour really belong to just one sex? What about the colour festivals across the world?What about artists who use all manner of colour? The snowboarders, surfers and skateboarders who wear lots of colour, his mum who has pink hair? Rainbows? The ocean? The countryside? Birds? Those shoes? Books? Shall I go on? Super heroes and Disney films are full of colour. The technicolor wonder if the Wizaed of Oz........Lets stop with this colour assignment to the sexes and let our kids love colour in all its shades.  As parents we need to help them see that boys and girls can be anything they want to be and colour is amazing. I have been as guilty as the next parent in my quest for righteous colour love in ignoring the colours they love. I have been colour-ist. This stops now. In our house any colour goes. 

As the responsible parent I am (!) we went over a few answers he could give in the future to the mean kids which mainly amounted to Fuck Off in 6 year old language and went on in our merry colourful way. My son loves his goggles and they are here to stay. 

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