On Being More Rainbowy

After I get my kids and husband out the door in the morning, I like to pour myself a cup of coffee and just be still for a bit. Usually I watch the birds out my window and check social media to see what folks near and far are up to. This morning was pretty much the same even though everyone was mysteriously ready nearly five minutes early. The door closed, the garage door came back down, and the dog looked at me as if to ask if it was okay to come lay by my feet. The coffee steamed and the birds sang outside.

I opened Twitter and read this tweet:

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Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly benefited from today’s lesson from Fabulous 5 Year Old. Be more rainbowy. 

There are lots and lots of Fabulous 5 Year Olds out there – some of them aren’t quite one yet while others are ninety-five. But they are out there, getting their fabulous rainbowy selves up every morning and out the door whether we notice them or not.

Our job is two-fold: either support them or get out of their way.

I have my own Fabulous 5 Year Old. She happens to be 11 these days. Although I didn’t find out her gender until she was placed, blue and nonbreathing, upon my chest, I always had a “gut feeling” that the baby I would meet would be a girl. And yet, that feeling didn’t impact any of my shopping choices for her before meeting her. I kept all of Biggest’s gender neutral and seasonally appropriate clothes for her and figured once I met my daughter, that a yellow bedroom was still just fine.

The blanket I made for her was flannel with teensy blue and red flowers on it. Her receiving blankets were greens and yellows and pastels but not truly pink. I steered clear of the pink world, not because I didn’t know her gender, but because pink never appealed to me and that hadn’t changed.

The first gift she received from a non-family member? Middlest’s precious pink bunny that accompanied her everywhere for many years.

The baby shower my friends had for me? Its theme was “Think Pink!”

Mister Soandso and I had a new baby and suddenly pink was everywhere in our lives. And she loved it. If I had a choice of two identical clothing items, I’d get her the pink one and she was guaranteed to love it. In no time at all, she had a dresser and closet full of clothes that all matched because they all had tones and patterns in pinks…it was our own version of the Geranimals of my childhood.

Let me be clear here. Middlest loved pink. Me, still not so much. Give me red or fuchsia, or purple or pretty much anything bold and attention-grabbing and I’m your girl. Pink always seemed too demure for me. But I appreciated that Middlest liked pink so I figured rocking her boat wasn’t worth it. (Although I did really try to talk her out of a pink Dora the Explorer trashcan.)

Fast forward a few years and I finally agreed to paint her bedroom to her liking, versus my own variations of yellow and green bedrooms I’d been creating for her over the years. It was a pink bedroom that a pink-loving girl could truly love.

The only problem is, I finally capitulated about 3 years too late. The paint had barely dried when Middlest let us know that for now on, her favorite colors were in the blue range. Sky blue, teals, turquoises, even baby blues were the go-to choice. Her dresser and closet still had pink in it. But now it had all sorts of colors as well. It was as if she found the largest box of Crayons and fell in love with all of them. She just loved the blues a bit more.

I spent about 30 seconds sighing heavy sighs before my senses returned and then I applauded Middlest’s ability to tell me that pink just wasn’t her favorite anymore. In fact, in the three years since I put down that paint brush, I’ve watched her fashion sense blossom – most often reminding me of a blooming shrub that refuses to stay neat and tidy and instead does what is in its nature to do.

One morning, Mister Soandso whispered something along the lines of “have you seen what Middlest is wearing? Should we say anything?” He wasn’t questioning her attire because we have clothing rules in our home. No, I think he was more concerned with how our naturally very shy daughter would handle the veritable shit-storm of attention her outfit might rain upon her. I said let her go in it. Let’s see what happens.

She did get lots and lots of comments. And each time she smiled and smiled a bit more. Maybe it was a bit of an odd collection of patterns and styles, but it was what she wanted to wear in that moment and she liked her creation. What’s more, she liked knowing that others find it to be charming.

These days, her favorite saying is “Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn, and then be a unicorn.”

I love that. So. Freaking. Much.

Because these days I see my daughter has come to a place in her own skin and time where she can embrace any and all things that appeal to her. These days the unicorns and rainbows and all things magical and breathtaking appeal to her – as they should to an eleven year old fabulous 5 year old who is smart enough to know that there is far more beauty in letting things be as they naturally intend to be than in making them fit into some sort of pattern or mold.

People are like shirts and pants and socks and sweaters. We are all made of basically the same stuff with some minor tweaks and adjustments made here and there. We are different enough to think ourselves unique and distinct, and yet we eventually try to mold ourselves into a more moderate version of us. We find it easier to be safe, than unique so we try to match others. But the truth is that if we all matched, we would be missing what makes us magical and special. We would miss being our rainbowy selves.

So, in the words of Caryn, rainbow on. Give yourself the chance to really shine – or, perhaps more accurately, bend the light so that something even more glorious within our selves, can be seen by others.

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3 thoughts on “On Being More Rainbowy

  1. FINALLY getting a chance to comment to say that I loved this! Especially “Our job is two-fold: either support them or get out of their way.” So, so true. And the bit about the Crayons was just perfect — hilarious and so apt.

    I wish I had my five-year-old’s confidence and sense of style. I love that she dresses like a rainbow, and I hope that never changes. The same for your eleven-year-old.

  2. Still the queen of the apt analogy – “like clothes, basically made out of the same stuff…” Rainbows are great, and so are unicorns” Thanks for this Kristina, a good reminder for me.

  3. I just saw SPOTS IN A BOX on my picture book shelves, and it made me think of our rainbowy girls. It’s a wonderful book by Helen Ward, about a guinea fowl who is born without spots and has to make his own sort of fashion. If your library has it, or if you have any reason to buy picture books, I definitely recommend it!

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