Raising Trouble: A Shout Out

Raising Trouble wants to give a shout out to some of the amazing work other people are doing on the same subject.

First, you must listen to the extraordinary piece, "Pink Bicycle," by James Braly, from the Moth podcast. Braly discusses his own father, a military man who disdained crybabies and nonconformists, and Braly's own resolution to be a different kind of father to his two sons. This goes pretty smoothly until three-year-old Oliver, a passionate aficionado of all things pink, decides he wants a pink bicycle. Dad's discomfort at this is so palpable and hilarious. And ultimately the outcome, which I won't spoil, is so sweet it will make you cry.

I did have one quibble with this story: Dad's level of incompetence as a consumer makes the story a little less plausible. How in the world did Braly have so much trouble finding a pink bike in Manhattan? With the flagship Toys 'R Us right in Times Square? Nearly every little girl in Brooklyn has a pink ride.

Then, you must read Sarah Hoffman's lovely piece in Cookie magazine, "The Pink Dress." (Thanks to Raising Trouble reader Terra Hartwell for the suggestion.)

When their preschool-aged son, Sam, wants to wear a pink dress to school, the writer and her husband are torn between letting him be himself, and protecting him from ridicule. She captures this tension so well. "A dress on a boy feels like an invitation to mockery," Hoffman writes, yet "we knew that denying his desire to look the way he wants would quash a part of him and make him unhappy, probably in a more fundamental way than we even understood." I won't reveal how this story turns out, either, but suffice it to say we can all learn a lot from Sam's parents -- and Sam.

One of the reasons gender is so important- and makes for such good stories - at this stage of life, is that kids under five are pretty well-supervised and thus, nonconformity rarely puts them in physical danger. Kids may make fun -- indeed, Sam's peers do tease him about his pink dress -- but their relationships are managed pretty closely by adults (whether parents, teachers, babysitters, grandparents). So preschool is an amazing time for kids to acquire questioning habits, and develop confidence -- when their world is still safe.

by Liza Featherstone
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3 Comments Have Been Posted

I think want Braly meant is

I think want Braly meant is not that he had trouble finding a pink bike, but rather he had trouble finding a normal bike with a pink paint job and nothing else. He gives the impression that all the girls' bikes -- like the Barbie 2000 or the Miss Kitty Bike -- have (girly, brand name) decals and doodads all over them on top of being pink.

Peeling is the only answer

We had the same problem when my daughter wanted a purple mermaid bike. The solution was to buy a purple bike, peel all the decals off, and then go to town with some adorable (and body-shape appropriate!) mermaid stickers. I put clear packing tape over the stickers to protect them from wear, and the result was what my daughter wanted and 100% Disney Princess free (which is what I wanted).

Frankly, I was surprised that Braly did find a plain pink bike. But then, he had all of Manhattan to shop in and I had only the Craigslist pages in Austin. ;-)


Then, you must read Sarah Hoffman's lovely piece in Cookie magazine, "The Pink Dress." (Thanks to Raising Trouble reader Terra Hartwell for the suggestion.)

I am Terra Hartwell but I was wondering if this is a shout out to me?? can you let me know what the suggestion was, I only remember reading the Pink Dress article and writing some stuff about it but not sure what suggestion I might have made?

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