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Talking it over: Color coding kids

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Last week, my husband and I spent a few days at our son's home, where we watched our 8 year old grandson, Tristyn, and twin granddaughters, Addy and Izzy, who are 17 months old. Our son and his wife took a small vacation and with Tristyn in school, it worked best if we went to their house.

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It was a fun but exhausting time. You would never think two little girls could keep you so busy while their brother was at school, but they did. The girls are not identical so we could easily keep them straight however, there is a need to keep some things like sippy cups, beds, clothing, and some toys separate so they have their own stuff. During a visit before we went down there, my daughter-in-law had explained that they try to keep one color dominate for each girl, so with one most of her things are purple and the other was pink.

I thought I had this straight but soon learned that the girls had other ideas. I was pretty sure that Addy's things were purple and Izzy was pink. The first morning, I had them in their high chairs ready for breakfast and set a purple sippy cup of milk on Addy's tray and pink on Izzy's. Addy immediately started making a fuss and reached for the pink cup. She was not happy until she had the pink one and Izzy had the purple one. I figured I just had the colors wrong so later when I got them dressed, I put purple on Izzy and pink on Addy so I could keep things straight all day.

For the next few days things went good as we played outside with Addy in a pink hat and Izzy in a purple one. We managed to get them to share toys, even though there were obvious favorites for each that probably belonged to the other girl. On the final day, just a few hours before Mom and Dad were set to come home, Tristyn asked me why Addy had the pink sippy cup because she was supposed to be purple. I then realized that I was fooled by a 17-month-old child who simply wanted what her sister had.

It made me think back to my own children as well as others, and how we tend to color-code them. When we finally had our baby girl, we dressed her in as much pink, ruffly clothing as we could find. When she was about eight years old, she let us know in no uncertain terms that she absolutely hated pink and ruffles.

We also tend to always dress boys in blue. Most people think that you can put blue on girls too but believe that pink just is not for boys. Even when it comes to toys, the boy toys have more blue color and the girl toys are usually pink.

I guess I don't really see the harm in doing this. As I found out, a child will eventually let you know if they don't like the colors chosen for them and probably shy away from them for the rest of their life. I am pretty sure that Addy is already starting to shy away from purple while Izzy is still pretty happy with pink. Color coding for kids, especially when there are multiples, really does make things easier to keep straight and assures that a child has their own things. It also makes it fun to pull a fast one on unsuspecting grandparents.

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