When I was six months pregnant with my daughter, we painted the nursery blue. People who inquired about the color scheme almost always accused me of keeping a secret—or just lying. “You must know you are having a boy or at least have some sort of hunch. Otherwise, you would be painting the room a more gender neutral color, like green or yellow.”
The truth is, I knew nothing of my baby’s sex even though I had undergone numerous ultrasounds at that point. We didn’t want to know. My husband and I were enjoying the suspense—and loving the fact that not knowing made our less patient friends and family a little crazy. When you can contribute to someone else’s insanity in this way, I say, “Do it!”
We were painting the nursery blue simply because we liked the color. Even if we had known we were having a girl, we wouldn’t have painted the room pink. I’ve never been fond of pink for décor. Pink dress? Sure. Pink flowers? Lovely. Pink lipstick? I have several shades. Pink walls? Never.
So, our daughter spent the first two years of her life in a blue bedroom with green sheets and lot of other pastel accent pieces. When we moved her to her big girl room, we choose yellow walls, dark blue curtains, and a purple bedspread that were later tied together with a white, blue, purple, pink, and brown floral rug. Eventually, I replaced the ill-fitting navy blue curtains with pink ones. She was delighted with that change.
When her brother was born, we moved him into the blue nursery and used the same green bedding. It was the perfect color scheme for a boy baby—just as it had been the perfect color scheme for a girl.
So, you see, I don’t like to buy into this silly idea of “Pink is for girls and blue is for boys.” Colors are colors. Go with what you like. They are all gender-neutral in my book or so I like to believe.
Recently, however, I found myself conflicted and wrestling with a double standard. Yes, you can give a girl blue anything, but is pink really appropriate for a boy? I mean, I know little girls and grown women who will tell you that blue is their favorite color. I’ve never met a man who is wild about pink. I have a closet full of blue dresses, blue blouses, blue t-shirts and blue shoes, but my husband owns only one pink shirt. When he wears it, he is ribbed about how it takes a very macho guy to pull off such a feminine hue. I’m sure that none of what I have written here is unusual.
So, back to my conflicted mental-wrestling over the gender of colors…
At six and a half, my daughter has finally out-grown her car seat—or more accurately, she now weighed enough to graduate to a booster. The car seat itself is capable of seating a 90-pound person. My daughter probably won’t weigh 90 pounds until she is ready to apply for a beginner’s permit. She’s built like a young me—all leg, very skinny.
So, now that she is, at last, 40 lbs., I bought her a booster seat—the kind her friends have been using for a couple of years now, and decided that we would give her old seat to her brother because it’s bigger and more comfortable-looking than the one he has been using since he was 18-months-old. Besides, it has cup-holders—a feature he has long coveted.
I am well aware of the injustice that occurs in every family with more than one child: The firstborn gets everything new and the subsequent children get hand-me-downs. At $329.99, plus tax and shipping, however, I wasn’t going to buy a new car seat for my son when his sister’s old seat was still in good condition. I would buy him a new car seat cover to make it feel new.
So, I did some on-line shopping and quickly discovered that my daughter’s old car seat—the Britax Frontier 85—has been “retired” and replaced by the Frontier 90. The only cover available for the Frontier 85 is in a color called “Livia” by the designers. I would have called it something more descriptive—like “bright pink.” The marketing blurb describing the cover’s many attributes even started with “Your little one will feel like a princess when she rides in this…” Um, okay, my son has never once expressed the desire to “feel like a princess.” For that matter, neither has my daughter—thankfully.
Of course, the website featured car seat covers in every color for the Frontier 90. Perhaps the Frontier 90 and the Frontier 85 were close enough in shape that I could use a 90 on my 85. And so I called Britax customer service to find out.
“Britax customer service. How may I help you?”
“Hi. I own a Frontier 85, and I was wondering if a cover for a Frontier 90 would fit it.”
“No, ma’am. Only the Frontier 85 cover will fit your Frontier 85 car seat.”
“Okay. Well, I was on your website early, and I noticed that the only Frontier 85 covers you are currently selling are bright pink. Do you have any other colors available that weren’t listed on the website?”
“No, ma’am. That seat cover now comes in the Livia only.”
“That’s too bad. I am buying a seat cover for my son and since he doesn’t want to feel like a princess, I was hoping to find it in another color.”
“I recommend you try Amazon or eBay. You might find someone selling discontinued Britax covers.”
“I’ve already been to those sites, and the only covers I saw were ones people had made at home. They weren’t the Britax products.”
“Oh, don’t buy one of those! We can’t guarantee that they will fit properly. They might present a safety hazard!”
“Yes. I know. That’s why I called you hoping to find an authentic Britax cover that isn’t bright pink.”
“I’m sorry. I can’t help you.”
And the call ended without me going into how asinine I think it is for Britax to only stock bright pink car seat covers for the Frontier 85. I mean, if you are only going to stock one color, why wouldn’t you go with something gender-neutral, such as green or blue? Everyone loves blue. And certainly, I couldn’t be the only person calling them with this concern. Our Frontier 85 doesn’t expire for another four years! A newer one could be around a lot longer. How could I possibly be the only person on the planet with this dilemma? If you’ve never dealt with car seats, you might not know this: they expire. They have expiration dates printed on them, just like a gallon of milk.
In the end, I muttered, “Screw it,” and I cleaned the existing car seat cover—in a very neutral cow print—the best I could. I removed my son’s old Roundabout from the backseat and replaced it with his sister’s old Frontier 85. I thought, “Poor kid. It’s either 100% hand-me-down or Feel-Like-A-Princess-Pink.”
When he saw it, he yelled, “Mom! You gave me Sissy’s cow seat!”
“What do you think?” I asked holding my breath, expecting him to say something about how he only gets hand-me-downs.
“Cool! It has cup-holders! I’ve always wanted cup-holders!”
Now, I wonder. Had I bought the feel-like-a-princess-pink car seat cover just so that he would have something new, would he have cared about the color or were the cup-holders all that really mattered? I’m not going to dwell on that for too long. By not buying a new cover, I saved a little money, and to some degree, I feel like I owe my son a brand-new something. Perhaps when he starts riding a two-wheeler, I will buy him one of his own instead of just spray-painting his sister’s old bike.