01 September 2014

Revisiting nail polish

Ironman red, of course.
I was faced with a decision this weekend. One that I assumed would occur at some point, but didn't think I'd have to deal with quite so soon.

While we were visiting family over the weekend, Tink got her nails painted a pretty pink (of course) by Dantielle*, and Puck watched very carefully. Bo noticed him watching and asked if he wanted his nails done, too. Puck reluctantly admitted that yes, he did want his nails painted. So of course, Dantielle tracked down a bright red, and happily painted Puck's nails. And they looked fabulous, and he kept looking at them the rest of the day, smiling.

I have absolutely no problem with Puck painting his nails. It doesn't mean anything other than, like his sister, there is color on his fingernails. Bo had two nails done, and even Papa G had a single orange big toenail.** So Puck has red nails.

And then when I casually mentioned we could remove the color before he goes back to school tomorrow, if he wants, Puck said, "Yeah. My friends will think I look like a girl."

My son is five years old, and has clear ideas of what it means to be "boy" or "girl."

I have been fighting this for quite some time in our conversations. For example, there was a boy in his class last year with long hair, and Puck was convinced this boy was a girl. I would repeatedly tell him, "Some boys have short hair like you and Daddy, and some boys have long hair like Isaiah***. Some girls have long hair like Mama and Sissy, and some girls have short hair like Bo and Dantielle."

And still, painted nails is for girls.

We are taking the polish off his nails, per his request, before school tomorrow. And we've told him that sometimes boys paint their nails, and that's okay. And sometimes boys wear dresses. And sometimes girls wear pants. And dresses.

And that's okay.

I will never push my children to be gender non-conforming. Instead, I will strive to provide them a wide array of options they can use to find their own paths, whatever that means to them. This weekend, it meant red fingernails. Tomorrow it could very well mean something else.

And that's okay.

*This is what Tink calls her. We're hoping it sticks.

**Who can resist a pink-nailed pixie pleading "Pleeeeeeaaasssee?" with big brown eyes? Clearly not Papa G.

***Not his real name.

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