Meet Alex. He’s my middle child and a true joy. He loves cooking, creating art projects and anything that has to do with rainbows. His favorite color is pink and he stands by it with fervor. I love everything about his gentle nature which is why my heart about broke when he had his first run in at school with a herd of children telling him that boys weren’t supposed to have pink lunch boxes and they certainly shouldn’t be paying attention to rainbows.
As he painstakingly recalled back to me what had happened that day, I could see the crushed look in his eyes and it made me frustrated and sad. Thoughts flitted through my mind in defense of my son. “Who determined pink to be the official color of girls anyway?” “What could have been the motive for those kids to want to bring down a fellow friend?” “Why are we all so scared of people that are different from us?”
It never ceases to amaze me how, even as adults we can say we’re striving for tolerance and acceptance in one breath and then just as quickly turn around and mock someone for being different in the next. We are all guilty of doing it at one time or another. Maybe we did it to feel better about ourselves. Perhaps we were sensing the peer pressure of going with the crowd, afraid of where it might leave us if we took the higher road or maybe, we simply couldn’t accept the fact that someone carried a different view from that of our own. Whatever the reason, it’s always a good reminder to think of how we would feel if the roles were reversed. Such a simple and complex concept all rolled into one.
I gave Alex a big mama bear hug, told him there was absolutely nothing wrong with his love of the color pink and that our differences are exactly what make each and every one of us special. I let him know that he should embrace the things that make him happy, even if they’re different from the norm and people will love him all the more for it. I think he took it to heart, because for his birthday party this past Sunday, he asked me to help celebrate the occasion with a rainbow cake.
He even asked me to add in a pink layer… for extra flavor of course. We baked, layered and frosted with Alex helping out every step of the way. When the cake was completed, we took a step back and reveled in our handy work.
I have never seen a little boy quite as happy as when we cut into that cake. He could hardly wait to share “the surprise” with all his friends at the party. There were many guesses as to what could possibly be awaiting the party goers once the cake was sliced. One little boy guessed chocolate chips and another guessed a marble cake.
When the slices were finally handed out, everyone oohed and ahhed at Alex’s culinary creation and not a single negative mention was made of rainbows or pink.
I’m proud of my young man for standing up for what he loves. Too often kids (and adults) are made to feel unloved, unwanted or uncool because they don’t fit in with the norm. But if we all dressed the same, had the same likes and listened to the same life tune, the world would be a much less interesting place to live.
So I say, open your mind, grab yourself a slice of rainbow cake and revel in your own unique beauty.