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Gender Roles For Children: Where Everything’s Made Up And The Colors Don’t Matter

, , , , | Working | September 4, 2021

I have twins who just turned three, a boy and a girl. We are openly relaxed about gender differences and it helps us make ends meet when, for example, he wears pink pyjamas until he outgrows them and they fit her. When he demands to wear a skirt, f*** it; he is three. It’s just that his sister has one that sparkles, so he wants one, too. This gets us the odd look once in a while and even some comments, but this is the rudest we’ve ever encountered.

In celebration of the twins’ third birthday, we are shopping for bike helmets. We usually buy used stuff, but safety gear is nothing we want to buy used.

The shop we visit is having a big clearance sale, and [Daughter] picks a violet helmet with a princess on, and [Son] picks a green dinosaur one. Then, we spot a teeny tiny purple bike. It is HEAVILY marked down as it seems to be a floor model that has seen better days, but still, it’s a fully working bike that never saw the outside world before. Our son tries it and loves it. We decide to buy it and approach the worker at the till.

At first, he sees our daughter and smiles as we ask about the purple floor model bike. He then sees my boy on the bike.

Worker: “Oh, it’s for him? Okay.”

My hubby stays with the happy little biker doing rounds on the sales floor. I go with the worker to pay.

Worker: “So that is [price nearly three times what I expected]. We can load the box for you if you pull up your car to the back, or your husband can carry it out. Instructions to assemble are inside.”

Me: “Wait, what? We thought we would get the floor model as it is for [price]?”

Worker: “I’m sorry, but we have no boy bikes of that model on the floor.”

Me: “I thought they were unisex at that stage? And even so, he is getting on and off it fine as it is, so we are totally okay with it anyway.”

Worker: “Let me get my manager.”

I’m confused. The guy goes off and returns with another worker who says he is the manager.

Manager: “My employee told me you asked for a new bike for the floor model sales price? I’m here to clarify, it is that cheap because it is used and we can not sell new ones for that price.”

Me: “But I never asked for a boxed one. We could not pluck him off that one anyway by now, and I thought we could just ride it out of the door.”

Manager: “But he told me you needed a blue one and the floor model is purple.”

Me: “I never said anything about another colour. Why would I? I understand it’s the floor model you are selling. Can I please just pay and get this done?”

Manager: “Of course! I’m sorry. Please come over to the till.”

The worker is standing near the till, and as he notices me paying the low price, he pipes up:

Worker: “But it’s the wrong colour and you can’t return it anytime later for that reason. The sale is final. And if it breaks, then it breaks; it’s your own risk.”

The manager sighs and turns to the worker.

Manager: “[Worker], you know full well that we give a two-year warranty on anything that leaves our doors. And you need to stop making these ridiculous assumptions about what is a boy’s and a girl’s colour.”

Worker: “But it’s not healthy to have him on a purple bike! Everybody will think it’s a gay thing, and he will be embarrassed!”

Me: “Excuse me. He is three. He still has a lot of years in peace before he has to find out what goes on in his heart and pants. He is wearing Hello Kitty underwear right now because it was glittery and he liked it. Just relax, man.”

Worker: “I should call the police on you for abusing your child! You are trying to make him gay, just because you think it’s cool and real men scare you.”

We all fell silent in shock a bit, and the manager grabbed the employee’s shoulder. He started protesting but was wordlessly shoved through a door to the office. The manager closed the door and returned. He started to apologise but I stopped him. I knew it was not his fault and he thanked me a lot. He gave us an even bigger discount on the bike and threw in two novelty bike horns shaped like animals that the kids got to pick. [Daughter] picked a tiger and [Son] took an elephant. The manager told me the worker was his sister’s boyfriend and he only had him there because he wanted to help them out. I never saw him there again, but we still go get most of our bike gear there and are very satisfied.

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