This morning, after gymnastics class, we drove over to the optical shop to pick up my 4-year old son’s new lavender purple glasses. He chose these glasses after my husband told him that he could have his new glasses in any color he wanted, red, blue, or purple. So of course he chose purple.
Apparently I am not as open-minded as I’d like to think I am.
I tried to get him to choose the navy ones. I handed him another pair of black with red accents. I picked out a dark deep purple frame. But these were the ones he wanted through and through. Today when we got them, he said “mommy, this light purple is my favorite!” Sigh. (Then when choosing a case, he was offered red or blue and he chose red because it was his favorite, so…yeah…4-year olds.)
But it stays with me because my reaction to his color choice bothers me. Why should I care what color glasses he wants? His eyesight dictates that he will probably be getting new glasses yearly for a while (and thank god we have the means for that, but that is a story for a different post) so it’s likely that he will like a different color at this time next year.
I mean, what will my mom say? What will my relatives in another country say when we go to visit them over Christmas this upcoming year? What will his friends and teachers say?? I start to prepare responses for people’s reactions. I do that sort of thing, especially since 2016. Like if someone parks too close to me in the parking lot, would I be ready to throw down? Or if I’m walking down the street past Planned Parenthood and those goddamned protestors want to say something to me, what smart retort would I come up with? Or when I am in a predominantly white situation and someone wants to be problematic about it, would I be prepared for the viral epic shutdown?
He chose them himself. It’s my husband’s idea – he suggested it. He likes purple right now. He’s really into trucks and building things and is otherwise really…gender normative. Is THAT the issue? But I live in a progressive neighborhood! I have friends of every orientation! I don’t care who he falls in love with! I don’t care what others think! I’m not bigoted!!
Wow. These glasses have made me realize that while all those things may be true, the root of all this is that we all have bias. And by wanting to protect him from other people’s judgment and bias, it comes to light that I myself have my own biases to work out.
This is really only the first(?) test among many that will come with confronting myself on my ingrained gender-normative (and who knows what other normative) biases that I have within myself. I can say that I am progressive all I want, but these beliefs do exist within me for whatever reason, and it is always going to be a conscious effort to remind myself to face them and actively quell them when they pop up.
I love your glasses because you love your glasses, buddy. Mommy is sorry that she didn’t just immediately say “you look so awesome” when she saw them. Mommy just has issues – and I’m working on them so that this world can be a better place when you start to find your way in it, my love.