Pretty in pink
When I was a little girl, my dad –a 6 foot, 2 inch football-watching former boxer–used to take me shopping for dresses at a store called Chocolate Soup in Tamarac Square. While pink and frilly factored heavily in the selection process, the most critical element was the twirl. And my dad, who was a total guy’s guy with very little prior knowledge about little girls or their wardrobes, always waited patiently while I tried on dress after dress, periodically stepping out of the dressing room for a quick spin.
I was much older before I realized that this wasn’t traditionally a fatherly responsibility; my mom and dad–even in the midst of divorce–did an excellent job of sharing responsibilities and allowing each other to parent according to their strengths. But my mom will be the first to admit that she wasn’t really into fancy frocks; in fact, our first major fight occurred when she tried to coerce me–a three year old who refused to wear “boy clothes”- into putting on a pair of courderoy overalls. Looking back, I really respect that she worked so hard to make sure that, even when I was young, I never felt limited because I was a girl, but I know that my
early aversion flat-out refusal to wear pants ran counter to some of her beliefs and ideals about gender stereotypes. So my dad– with his huge hands and great big personality– was often tasked with ponytailing my (very long) hair and buckling my (ultra-shiny patent leather) mary-janes.
This weekend, while I had my hair cut (for the first time in many, many months!), Dmitri and Lily cruised around the mall in search of a Mortal Kombat game and yet another tub of protein powder from GNC. They returned, however, with a few items that weren’t on his list: little pink jellies and sparkly, zebra-print sunglasses; a tiny pink halter-top and matching white ruffled skirt from Gymboree. And while I have absolutely no intention of ever forcing Lily to wear pastels (or dresses, or little plastic glittery sandals) exclusively, I lovedthat my husband–a former motorcycle-racing adrenaline seeker with no prior knowledge about little girls or their wardrobes–felt just as comfortable choosing an outfit (with accessories!) for our daughter as he did browsing in GameStop. Because even though we don’t know what kind of person Lily is going to grow into, just knowing that she has a dad who’ll meet her wherever she is–a dad like I have– makes me feel a little bit more confident that whoever she becomes will be just fine with us.