It all started with back to school shopping. I noticed a rather large contingent of teal, pink and purple in the young men's areas of clothing. Not that I'm sexist, mind you, it's just that we have a culture of such gender specific toys, clothing, and colors, that I was at first taken aback. I did a whole bunch of research on this years ago--the whole boy and girl toy and advertising thing--trust me, the gender neutral concept in toys has been a hard sell in this country. Walk into any Toys R Us, and you will see the red and black aisle (marketed to males) and the pink and purple aisle (marketed to females). Or maybe I should say marketed to the parents of said males and females who have bought into gender specific stereotypes. To be fair, many early childhood activities seem to steep our children in these stereotypes early on anyway....Even supposedly gender neutral toys like Lego's and play dough come in gender specified (by marketers, and in our country, because other cultures use different colors to specify "boy" and "girl") colors. And don't even get me started on the advertising--macho, violent male toys versus helpless, manipulative female ones....just read "Who's Calling the Shots?"
Anyway, then we're walking in the one-stop-shopping store the other day, and there are leg warmers. Honest to goodness leg warmers. I said, "Oh, no! I really don't want to re-do the 80's!" And I don't. It's not that it was that bad of a decade in my life--I received two degrees, moved to the Pacific Northwest, and got married and pregnant with our first child all in the 80's. It's just that I really don't want to revisit shoulder pads, bad perms, and a plethora of pink and teal. Especially since I'm over 45. I just don't think bright pink and bright teal are colors that look good together on anyone over about age 17. And I'm seeing an increasing amount of it.....
It just rubs me the wrong way--sort of like there's some sort of conspiracy saying, "Hey! Look over here at bright bubble gum pink and aqua and teal and sunshine yellow and neon orange! Don't pay attention to the economic crisis or the mortgage fiasco or the high stakes of the presidential campaign! Don't take any of that seriously! We're bright colors, here to sing and dance and distract you!" And I'm tired of being distracted. It's exhausting.
Today, during a spiritual direction appointment, my heart and soul gave a sigh of relief when I realized I needed to take all of my life to God for help. A prayer something like, "Hey God, it's me, Amy. I'm hormonal, and anxious about the political scene, and proud of my son for doing well leaving home, and still trying to reconcile being of service and making a living, and I need your help. Here's my whole life: the good, the bad, the so-so--the stuff I'm clear about and the stuff I'm confused about. Please use it and me the best way you know how." What a relief! I thought I had to figure it all out and then go to God with specifics. How nice to know I don't.
And isn't that how we want to parent? To be there for our kids when things are going well and when they're not and when they're both? There may be the occasional time when I really don't want to know, but mostly, I do. I want them to be honest and vulnerable and I want to be there to comfort and tell them I have confidence in their abilities to figure it out. I can't always fix it, and at their ages, I shouldn't fix it very much, but I still want them to know they aren't alone, and this is home and we are here.
A few years ago, I was privileged to see Elton John and Billy Joel do a "dueling pianos" concert. Hands down the best concert I've ever been to. With all this pink and teal and leg warmers and such, some lyrics keep running through my head:
How about a pair of pink sidewinders
And a bright orange pair of pants?
. . . .
Don't you know about the new fashion honey?
All you need are looks and a whole lotta money"
It's the next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me
Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound
Funny, but it's still rock and roll to me