My mother in-law always wanted a daughter. Spawning twin sons and three grandsons, she looked longingly at every girl with long locks and pink bows. But I was most comfortable in a world of blue and green, where the emotional vicissitudes of girls was replaced by a pick-up game of basketball.
I knew a life with two sons would involve dirt, farts, and lots of action. Growing up with two older brothers, I was accustomed to the grunts and guffaws of adolescent boys. I felt comfortable with their constant display of machismo. There wasn’t a sliver of sparkle in my house.
I felt a shift in my expectations when my oldest entered eighth grade. I noticed this in-between age— where everything inside is bursting to come out. Witnessing the interactions between the nervous girls and the overly confident boys, I knew I needed to step in. My boys needed to be pushed beyond the ESPN atmosphere of our home. They needed to understand that it is okay to act pink.
Boys And Pink: Finding Pink in a Blue World
Fast forward to this past weekend when I was happily ensconced on our comfy couch. My sweaty, smelly boys traipsed into the family room with a few of their friends. I was watching the chick flick, Endless Love.
Instead of a mass exodus, the boys plopped next to me and began to quiet down. Their budding adolescent bodies folded into the cushions. They stopped growling at each other and watched two teenagers fall in love.
We are pretty liberal about movies. My husband has taken the boys to see the most age-inappropriate cinema. (Pictures where gratuitous, provocative scenes are played out with comedic genius by Jonah Hill or Will Ferrell). Yet, watching these boys engrossed in this old school love story, I found pink in a blue, blue world. Sitting with my boys watching a love story was the best afternoon ever.
Later that night, I was thinking about why these kids aren’t in meaningful relationships. Maybe because they didn’t grow up being defined by the love stories of our generation. In our day, everyone watched Sandy and Danny fall in love in Grease, Debbie and Dan in About Last Night, or friendship turned romance in St. Elmo’s Fire. We daydreamed about our sixteenth birthday. Donning our flowery tiara and flowing pink dress, we sat across from Michael Schoeffling, experiencing our first kiss. We would forever be entrenched in the glowing hue of Molly Ringwald, the ordinary girl who believed in extraordinary love.
Teaching Boys Respect
Watching a love story with my boys gave me the opportunity to talk to them about respect and loyalty. They saw that even macho men could fall hard. Seeing your parents steal a kiss in the kitchen is one thing, but seeing Alex Pettyfer whisk Gabriella Wilde off her feet sends a different message. It’s okay to be vulnerable; it’s okay to care.
My boys are growing and changing, and these moments are fleeting. So I grab every opportunity to connect with them. Yes, they are wired differently than girls, but it doesn’t mean that they require less instruction.
So here is my advice to you—steal as many moments as you can. Snuggle with them on the couch with the films that touched you at their age. They’ll put down their phones and take note. Young and innocent is a universal theme.
And blue moms everywhere, check your Netflix. Pretty in Pink is perfect for your next family movie.