Elisabeth Easther: My son wants pink shoes, should I care?

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The pink shoes that Theo is now the proud owner of.
The pink shoes that Theo is now the proud owner of.

I am deeply ashamed of myself, pink-cheeked in fact and also terribly proud of my son.

The other day, while shoe shopping with my eight year old, I tried to influence his choice of footwear for all the wrong reasons.

We were in the sneaker aisle and there was way too much choice but finally we found a pair for him to try on. It was a bland shoe, grey with yellow details, laces too because he's too big for Velcro. Although we were both keen for it to be over ASAP, I insisted he try both shoes on and walk in them. He was about to say that they'd do when he discovered one shoe kept coming off. So we started fossicking again. I showed him several other pairs but none met with his approval, till he found, by himself, a black pair with red details, actually more pink than red. Very pink.

"Are you sure you want them?" I asked, trailing off nervously.

"They're cool," he replied.

But I foresaw problems ahead on account of them being pink. Even though I'm a feminist, I was trying to lead my boy child away from what's perceived as a 'girlie' colour.

Despite the fact that the booster seats in our car are a very bright shade of pink - bought years ago on TradeMe, when budget was our primary concern and, in the picture they didn't look pink at all. When I picked them up I realised they had little girls on them and were as pink as Barbie's nail varnish but back then neither of us noticed. We were bigger than that, smarter and more evolved. But, over the last few years, some of his boofier mates have commented on the colour of the seats and I've defended them while Theo hasn't given a hoot. And I know he's not colour blind.

But the best thing is, Theo has never cared about colour. Although apparently, boys are supposed to favour blue while girls prefer pink thanks to something prehistoric about chasing food and knowing what berries weren't poisonous - whatevs.

And here I was, a 21st century mother trying to lead my son away from pink shoes because I worried he'd be bullied. And they weren't even pink pink, more like black with veins of pink, as if the shoes had burst some capillaries.

He tried them on anyway, despite my pathetic attempts at getting him to put them back and, when he discovered they lit up, like a disco on his feet, he was even more enchanted. He stomped and they flared, he jumped and they glowed - and still I tried to make him pick another pair.

"Are you sure you want those ones?" I asked pointedly, stressing those ones like I was saying are you sure you want tuberculosis?

"You're going to have to wear them till they fall apart or you're too big for them," I said, pointing out the obvious.

"I know that," he replied, patiently.

"But they are very... you know...," I was struggling for him see what I saw while trying not to come right out and say the word pink. I really didn't want to say what I was thinking out loud and I didn't want to waste money on a pair of shoes that wouldn't be worn either.

One more time I tried to get him to see sense because I couldn't bear the thought of him being teased.

"Are you sure you want them," I asked, raising my voice this time, "they are quite...," the p word hung in the air between us, unsaid.

And at that moment I learnt my son is way cooler than me.

"If you're worried about people teasing me because they're pink, I don't care," he declared.

And he wore them up to the checkout, checking out his flashing feet as he went. There goes twinkle toes I thought to myself, what a guy.

It's official, my son is a dude.

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