Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The reason for the boxspring

The reason my last post was a stub offering a free boxspring is that we have finally found a longterm solution to Elli's room being a disaster.  She has long wanted a bunkbed so we decided to use it as a bribe to get her to clean up some.  4.5 hours of cleaning later we gave four bags of toys to a local childcare and put six small garbage bags of junk down the chute.  Then she got her reward:  A bunkbed from IKEA with a ton of storage underneath and a nice desk space.

We went to IKEA to see their other offerings but she was having *nothing* to do with them.  This one has pink drawers, see, and that is a feature that cannot be matched.  It is an odd thing for both Wendy and I because both of us seem to actively chafe under gender roles and norms and yet Elli is absolutely enraptured with doing all the girly things.

And that is great!  I am glad she feels happy in doing those things and happy in being a girl.

It isn't that I object to her acting girly, just that I wish she didn't so obviously take her signals about what is feminine from the toy aisle at ToysRUs.  Her decision that pink things are the only things she should own isn't based on her actually liking pink particularly, it is just that she has received the message that pink is associated with girls and so she buys into that wholly.

She doesn't accept gender stereotypes much in general, so it isn't as though I am worried about her sticking too close to expected norms.  She is convinced that gender has no bearing on what things you can do, who you should have relationships with, or what you should want.  Those lessons that come from both home and school seem to have sunk in.  She, however, is utterly certain that pink is the only thing that matters to her and so she will select all of her possessions with that in mind.

Which, in this case, worked out okay.  The set gives her all kinds of extra storage and room to work and I think it will be great for her.  Sometimes you get the right thing even when your selection algorithm is ... questionable.


  1. What should motivate a decision as to what colour one prefers?

    I totally get your point, but really, what causes people to like one colour or another? What would you prefer guide her choice in colour? "based on her actually liking pink particularly" is vague - what causes/shows evidence of "actual liking"?

  2. She has made it clear that she knows pink is a 'girl colour' so that is why she likes it. I didn't have to guess in this case, straight from the mouths of babes.

    1. As if listening to what people say and believing them is a good way to find out what they are thinking!

  3. What is a better reason for liking a colour? I like black because it feels "cool" to me, likely because people/characters I enjoy tend to wear black. Is that any different?

    Emily likes pink a lot too, likely for the same reason as Elli. Erika seems to be tending towards Green/Blue, I'm guessing because it's not Pink and differentiates her from Emily (and we have green/blue plates and cups and pink plates and cups).

    As I said, I understand. I roll my eyes that Emily is "typical" in that she's a little girl who likes pink. You just got me thinking about how people pick their favourite colours and what, if anything should parents bother to do about it. Or can do it - as you mention, culture is dominating any home preferences you might have.

    For us, it was all the hand-me-down pink clothes. We were trapped!

  4. Great job on the clearing out of unused, unneeded stuff!

  5. So I know you're not seriously concerned about this anyway, but:

    I think it's important to point out that *most* people, to some extent or another, make their choices about how they present themselves (and I think bedroom decor is an important form of self-expression for kids, since it's the part of the house that represents them to their friends, etc) in part because of what those choices will signal about them (i.e. because of the cultural meanings that are placed on those things, above and beyond plain aesthetic or whatever other preferences.) Like, sometimes I wear clothes just because I like them, but most of the time I wear clothes because I like them, *and* they are suitably queer for me. None of us form our preferences in a vacuum.

    Elli's sense of herself and the kinds of signals she's aware of are naturally going to be more simplistic than an adult's, but seriously this is a really normal thing. You also get girls who do the exact opposite and will declare any colour other than pink to be their favourite colour, but it's essentially the same thing, and just as simplistic a response to the absurd gendering of all the kid-things.

    And as a side-note, when I was growing up the thing about pink things (and I was never particularly into pink btw; my favourite colour was purple, thank-you-very-much) was that they were always unequivocally *mine*. Given that both you and Wendy are not into the girly, pink things, there may be a bit of that going on here too?

    1. "Elli's sense of herself and the kinds of signals she's aware of are naturally going to be more simplistic than an adult's, but seriously this is a really normal thing."

      That's the most important thing, I think. I know plenty of parents who were kind of shocked that their little girls wanted to play with Barbies and My Little Ponies, or that their little boys wanted to play with guns. They didn't want their kids to fall into these stereotypes.

      But a big part of it is kids trying to figure things out for themselves, and they don't have the experience to think things through the way we would. Playing with Barbie is part of what it means to be a girl for many girls. It's by playing with Barbie that they will figure out that playing with Barbie *isn't* an essential part of being a girl. I feel like as a parent the best thing I can do is support that (not that we have any Barbies yet, but we do have some Dora stuff) and figure out how to be genuinely interested in her interests. If she feels supported in her choices then she's going to have a better grounding to make choices, which will mature as she matures.

      On the other hand, if she never grows out of Barbie then I can buy a vintage Barbie to add to her collection for her 30th birthday.