The Preteen Color Palette

Preteen Color Palette

2014’s color is radiant orchid, according to the color site Pantone.

And that’s too bad because we just painted my preteen daughter’s room 2013’s color: emerald green.

The whole thing was a huge effort, maybe even a waste of time. We put on four coats of paint and had to leave the windows open. One week later, suffering from dangerous paint fume exposure and colds, the pay-off is that the crack beneath the door glows poisonous green when afternoon sun hits the walls of the room just right. If I didn’t know about the paint, I’d swear she was brewing up something weird in there.  Something way worse than the typical disrepair of her room.

Maybe it’s a potion to slip into her parent’s coffee the next time we say “no” to her borrowing $20, and the car, and some other stuff, for a night out on the town with friends.  Other parents might have said “yes,” to all of that, but we’re different. We aren’t like other parents. And she isn’t like other daughters.

Not that how we parent is any of your business, but I will tell you that we let her have the car, we did say “yes,” just the one time, and just for the night. The condoms? No! Absolutely not.  And when she complained, this is what we said, “maybe, when you’re a little older. Say, 10.”

OK, I might be exaggerating a little with that last part. But let’s not get distracted. The thing I’m talking about is color.

I get that this radiant orchid looks good on hand bags and ultra -thin women, but that’s nothing special. Have you ever seen any color look bad on ultra-thin women?  Or a handbag?

I want to be a good parent, that’s why I try not to get stuck on the under-age clubbing thing. Kids will be kids, you know? You pick your battles.  I have a very real concern that goes beyond my mind’s annoying “what if?” habits, as in “What if my daughter gets pregnant because I didn’t give her condoms when she went out, is it my fault?”

My question,and maybe you know the answer to it, is this: How will radiant orchid be received by the nine-year-old set?

I’m hoping they hate it.

I know they like the green. They are all wearing it, including my daughter, who has black sneakers with neon green highlights but has branched out a little into turquoise green and has a winter coat that color.  Sadly, she doesn’t wear the coat. It has nothing to do with the color.

When you are nine, your state of being is consistently opposite that of your mom’s. She is never cold, or tired. I’ve tried to ignore her blue, shivering lips on the playground, but I am weak and often just offer her MY coat, which she rejects because it is super ugly. So I put it back on, and resign myself to feeling ancient and self-consciously warm in front of her friends.

At her age, some girls start turning their noses up at pink, which is why the room got painted in the first place, but I fear that I’ve set a dangerous precedent  by agreeing to a popular color.  Is she going to be unhappy with that color soon? I was leery of the green, but the initial shock of how the walls set off a kind of witches’ kettle glow under the crack of her door has worn off. I’ve grown used to it. Maybe even like it a little.

This radiant orchid is very cotton candy, very Hunger Games privileged class.  I do believe Effie Trinket of the Hunger Games had this shade in her hair for the last movie.

Who knows the why and the how of popular colors? They are a good way to get mothers to paint rooms, I know that. And yes, buy sneakers. But Pantone is on record believing that radiant orchid is flattering for many skin tones.  I have my doubts.  I’ve seen cotton candy on a face, and it just looks sticky. Possibly, they are talking about the skin tones of a clown, but if they are, they are setting another unfair standard: Everything looks good on a clown.

So what am I supposed to do? Paint her room every time the color changes because it looks good on models, hand bags, and clowns?

You second guess yourself when you’re parent.  It’s hard to know what’s right.

When they’re young, the questions are simple. With babies it’s: what to do if she cries all the time? Toddlers: what to do if she eats paper? When they’re preteens: what do I do if she texts while driving? Or wants to wear my push-up bra?

And now we’ve come to the hardest one of all. What if she wants to change the color of her room every time another color becomes popular?

I know one thing for sure. I’m not painting that damn a room again for another two years.

I’m painting my own first.

Michelle LeJeune is a Denver, CO-based wife, mother, humor writer, and painter of rooms. She is also editor, publisher and chief bug eater for a humor blog, Broad, written for women, by women, and about women.

Photo credit: Kathy Scola

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Comments (1)

  1. kvnoble

    *rolling my eyes at you* You’re funny, Michelle. 8)