In the pink
“It’s a team requirement.”
Alarmed, “I don’t recall hearing that from your coach.”
“All the guys are wearing pink socks.”
“What do you mean, ‘All the guys.’ I’ve only seen one guy – on the other 7th grade team – with pink socks.” I was a little annoyed, but not entirely unfamiliar with the concept. At the previous weekend’s football game, when I noticed the socks, I commented to the boy’s mom that it was nice to see him so secure in his manhood that he would choose pink socks. Occasionally my boys have chosen pink, as in toothbrushes, cotton candy, or Frisbees®, but this has never extended to apparel. She answered, “Yeah, I don’t exactly know what’s up with that. I didn’t realize he was so supportive of breast cancer.” I peered more closely – yet discreetly – at the socks. Indeed, they were adorned with the awareness ribbon. “Hmmm,” we’d shrugged.
“Well, I need them. We’re all supposed to wear them.”
“Honey, c’mon!” I was exasperated. “We have to go. You can’t be telling me something like this 10 minutes before we have to get out the door!” It was the second day of school and his team had an away football game. I’d had to orchestrate and manage his brothers (who both had football practice), and the dog – lining up help to do so – in order to get my oldest to the game earlier than early, because as Coach says, “if you’re on time, you’re late.” So, the pressure was already on.
Once in the car, I asked my son to plug the address into the GPS. After our course was set and we had driven along in silence for a time, I said, “So, tell me about the pink socks.”
“Well, everyone’s wearing them.”
“Hon, ‘everyone’ is not wearing them.”
“But we all want to.”
“It’s not something your coach said you had to do, is it.” Not a question, but a statement.
“Then you can’t tell me it’s a requirement. If it was, I would have heard it from the coach.”
“Just forget it. I can see you don’t want me to have the socks.”
“Hon, I didn’t say I didn’t want you to have the socks. I am just trying to get a better understanding of what is going on here. Your timing and delivery wasn’t so hot.”
“What I mean is, you asked me like 10 minutes before we were leaving for your game and we were in a hurry and I can’t just produce pink socks on a whim. You told me it was a requirement, when it wasn’t.”
“It’s okay to tell me that you want the socks because you want to fit in and be one of the guys. I understand that. You don’t have to make excuses.” Pink socks are one thing, rated M video games are another.
“Okay, mom. Thanks, mom.”
I didn’t know what he was thanking me for; I hadn’t committed to buying him any socks (and I noticed only one other boy was wearing them that day). However, the next time I was in one of the sporting goods stores that we frequent, I did.
Later, I presented them to my son. “Thanks, Mom. They’re exactly right! I’m going to wear them tomorrow!”
When he got home from school the next day, he announced, “A lot of kids asked me why I was wearing pink socks.”
“Really? What did you tell them?”
I told them, “Duh. To support breast cancer.”
I, like the other mom, didn’t know my son was so supportive of breast cancer. Grandma was a breast cancer survivor, but that was wayback when I was in high school and hasn’t been spoken of much in my kids’ lifetimes. I hope they never have to face the fear, doubt, and uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis. I pray they never have to virtually hold their breath during the subsequent treatment and – hopefully – recovery.
When my son wore the socks to his next football game, he was the only one. At Sunday dinner, he reported being told he looked like he belonged with the cheerleading squad. “How sexist,” I replied. “We don’t even have a cheerleading squad. Anyway, cheerleading can be a guy-sport, too!”
“I know, right?” He answered. “Like where?”
“Well, one of my colleague’s sons goes to Texas Tech and he’s thinking about giving it a try. He was a football player, too.”
My youngest, in second grade, piped up, “Even kids in my class say there are boy sports and girl sports and boy colors and girl colors. It’s just stupid! I like pink! I don’t know about switching to cheerleading though…”
My oldest paused for a moment and then informed us he’d just wear the socks to school for now, until a certain game the following month when “everyone” was going to wear them. “October is breast cancer awareness month, Mom.”
“Sounds like a plan, honey.”
“Well, then I need a pair of pink socks, too,” my sixth-grade son chimed in.
“Yeah, me, too!” Echoed his younger brother.
“Is that so?” I laughed inwardly. At least this time I had more than 10 minutes’ notice.