Pink and Blue

Let’s say you are at the mall – perhaps getting a coffee – when you see an acquaintance carrying a baby in a Baby Bjorn. Suddenly you remember seeing an announcement a month or so earlier but, for the life of you, you can’t remember – was it a boy or a girl? You look for any giveaways. Is there a pink ribbon clipped onto that thin hair. Is there a blue puppy insignia?  Quick. Gotta find something. The mom looks at you while gently patting the baby’s bottom.

After a quick hug and greeting, you bite the bullet and ask, “Is it a boy or a girl?”

You needed to know because … well, because you had work to do. From the minute we know a baby’s gender, we have cultural scripts ready to go. A boy? We lower our voices a bit – perhaps use the words ‘buddy’ and ‘handsome’ or ‘good-looking.’ A girl? A higher voice with words like ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey.’

All adults in a culture, not just parents, work together to ensure that the next generation is ready for their turn on stage. We want kids to be accepted so they, too, can be safe. We do it out of love. We play a little rougher with our toddler boys and give baby dolls to little girls.

Starting assumptions are important and can be beautiful. But too often we forget that those starting assumptions are arbitrary. They change over the time. They must change over time so we prepare our kids for their world.

So – the pink and blue caps on newborns in hospital nurseries aren’t for the babies. They are our cue. Our starting gate – and we’re off to the races readying the next generation.

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