In our Daddy Issues series, a father of a young daughter seeks guidance, hoping to raise a strong woman. He looks to you, dear readers, for insight.
My wife took our daughter to an outdoor store to get a bicycle rack for an upcoming trip and returned instead with the tiniest aluminum baseball bat and leather glove you can imagine.
I never would have guessed, but this impromptu sporting goods trip turned into a major victory over the color pink and made me impossibly pleased and proud.
"You should see me hit with this!" my daughter beamed, bursting in the door and wielding the bat. I've had nightmares about this exact thing — these kind of bat-wielding break-ins — but none of them involved goofy grins and eyes the size of baseballs.
"Oh," I said, checking my watch, "Did you have time to stop at the park?"
"No," she said flatly, "But I just know I can hit with it so good."
I examined the bat in her hands. It was silver and gold around the barrel, tapering into a deep red around the handle.
Honestly, I was surprised it wasn't pink.
We're not yet officially out of the Pink Phase — if that's what it even is anymore. Given how much crap out there is available in pink, this "phase" can seemingly last a lifetime. I've seen stores choking with pink bats and helmets and gloves, and I just assumed that when she went to buy one ... well, it made me feel horrible for not giving the child enough credit.
I asked, "So how'd you choose ... this one?"
Apparently, at the store, the kid did select a pink bat first, after testing out what my wife described as "every single god damned bat in the world." In the end, they walked toward the counter with a brown leather glove — having given up on a pink one because it wasn't easy to squeeze shut — and a pink baseball bat.
"But then," my wife said, "She stopped and said wanted to test out another bat she liked one more time."
Ultimately, she decided on the silver and gold and red number and came home incredibly happy.
So why so much praise for the antithe-pink?
Why does it really matter? Why do I even care about the endless, unstoppable barrage of the rosy side of the color spectrum? It's just a hue, right? A shade. Probably a small, forgettable era in her life and the lives of other girls. They'll get over it, I'm told. It ends. They move on.
But until then ....
"The pink bat was a crappy bat," my wife told me later.
It was too long, too heavy and just felt ... cheap. It wouldn't have been a great first official baseball bat for a kid who loves to knock pretend home runs over my head. And yet, initially, she was drawn to it, pulled toward it, sucked into the gravitational singularity of gender-typing, sherbet-colored visions of "girliness." It was like I could hear the toy marketers dreaming up this product: Who cares if it's crap? It's for girls. It seems like an incredibly tough lesson to learn — go for function over design, for usefulness over looks — but I was proud of the kid for selecting something based on need over desire.
Maybe it is just a phase, I thought. Maybe I should just chill the hell out.
In the backyard, I pitched her a hardball, throwing it overhand across the plate. She knocked it into my nose and I fell to the ground, visions of cheap pink bats swirling behind my squeezed eyelids.
Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out! Don't even get him started on the color green.