Akiva is well in touch with his so-called feminine side. His favorite colors are pink and purple. He loves flowers. He loves to dress up in tutus and tiaras, with elaborate clips in his hair. He loves to play castle, wherein he is Queen Hyacinth, I am Princess Periwinkle, Gideon is Prince Snapdragon, and Bill is King Rhubarb.
It’s sometimes a little anxious for me, the feeling of mediating between this lovely, creative boy and a society that makes such a to-do over gender roles that a not-even-four-year-old child gets eyed oddly when he wears the pink snowpants he insisted I buy him. (The pink is, in some circles, enough to cancel out the dump truck shirt, ratty hair, and constant dinosaur talk.) I want to give him a world where he can like what he likes and it’s just a part of his individuality. That world doesn’t exist. In its absence, I want at least to give him a safe place to like what he likes. If these quirks turn out to have deeper meaning in his adult self, I want him to have a mother who believes in his essential worth and accepts him no matter what.
He’s been telling me that several of the boys in his class told him that boys don’t like pink and purple and don’t like flowers.
When he mentioned it today, I said, well I think the boys are wrong. You like pink and purple and you like flowers, and you’re a boy. Some people like some stuff, some people like other stuff. It’s no big deal. You like asparagus, and I don’t.
He said, “Ima, I like everything.”
Later, one of the boys in question came to our house to play. I made the two of them a snack of apple slices, which I whimsically arranged on the plate like a pinwheel, with a few peanuts and raisins in the center. Akiva said, “Look! My mom made our snacks look like flowers.”
The playmate said, “I thought we hate flowers.”
Akiva said, “I like them, you don’t. Everyone’s different.”