Yesterday, #3 decided it was time to “take a haircut”, as he and LP call it, because according to him, “all my hair is standing straight up.” This wasn’t necessarily the case, but he was looking a little shaggy.While there, #3 informed the stylist that after taking his haircut, he was going to have his fingernails and toes painted with “polish-ish.” Predictably, she responded with “Boys don’t paint their nails.” The conversation effectively came to an end when I said “At our house they do.”
#3 was terribly proud of both the work he’d done on my toes (Wow.) and of his own fingernails and toes. He desperately wanted pink, and all I had was a deep fuchsia, so we went for it.
At their insistence, I used to paint the Eldest and LP’s nails all the time, all sorts of crazy color combinations like green and silver and blue. One of my favorite pictures is the Eldest’s class photo from the 2s, where he has his little grubby hands crossed one over the other, resting on his knee, his nails in chipped, alternating blue and green.
There were several times that the Eldest came home from that class and said “MM said that boys don’t paint their nails.” I’d shrug and say you wanted them painted, we painted them. Shall we take it off? He’d say no.
And last week, after the Eldest said “Good game!” to one of the little boys on the opposing team that they had just beaten the pants off of, the little boy stared and stared and responded not with thank you, but with “I thought you were a girl.” I don’t fault the kid-the Eldest’s hair has gotten long. And he’s pretty. In a masculine way, of course.
The Eldest shrugged, turned around, and walked away. I couldn’t have been more proud.
Actually, if he’d have said something like “I thought you were going to win. Guess we were both wrong!” I may have been a little more proud, but that’s just me being snarky and rude. And he’s not snarky and rude like his mama, thankfully.
My sons have learned quickly enough that there are rules, that there are things they’re supposed to like and things they’re not-colors, toys, clothes, books. I suppose what I’m trying to teach them, to let them know, is that it’s ok to break them. You have a friend who’s a boy and likes Barbies? So what. You have a friend who’s a girl that wears camo and plays baseball? Great. Don’t judge them because they don’t seem to fit into the mold, love them because of it. And most importantly, respect their choices, as you’d like them to respect yours.
For some the lines are drawn in Sharpie, pressed down straight in indelible ink. For our family, I’d say it’s more a graphite curve, a fluid scribble that goes here and there, that is working to find its place, to determine the path that suits. I know not everyone would let their sons out of the house with fuchsia nails, and I get it. But it’s what works for us. And soon enough, they’ll have to deal with the bigger questions, they’ll wrestle with identity and culture and gender and sex and politics and faith and what it all means, what it means to be a man and a citizen of this city, of this state, of this country, of this world.
Have a great day, friends, and thanks for stopping by!