When my son was three he went through a nail polish phase. He saw his sister wearing bright, sparkly colors on her fingers and he wanted in on the action. In his opinion, she was the coolest thing on earth, and he wanted to be just like her. So we pulled out the polish and went to town. Painted his fingernails every color of the rainbow. He loved it.
One day he went to preschool with bright pink nails. I didn’t think anything of it. A few moms said, “Aw, how cute.” One mom, however, gave me the stink eye from across the room. I could tell she was scandalized by the way she was looking at us. She finally approached me. I guess she couldn’t contain her disdain any longer.
“You let him go out like that?” She said. “What does his father think?”
What does his father think? I just looked at her, stunned. I didn’t know what to say. (And let me tell you, I’m quite a talker, so to get me to shut up is a big feat.)
“He’s three,” I finally managed. “What should his father think?”
“He’s a BOY,” she pointed out.
REALLY?????? So THAT’S what’s dangling between his legs. DOH! Thank you for clearing that up, lady!
“And … ?” I said.
To which she said nothing and huffed away, leaving a cloud of sanctimommy dust in her wake.
Here’s the deal. I don’t care if my 3-year-old boy put on nail polish. To him it wasn’t a gender declaration. It was fun. And even if it was a gender declaration, that’s his prerogative. I want my kids to know that I accept them no matter what. Whether they’re wearing nail polish or tutus or fatigues. As long as they are kind, respectful, happy kids, I support their choices.
I want my children to explore and express their true natures. I want them to realize that girls can play with trucks and boys can dance ballet. That wearing nail polish is just fine, no matter what’s dangling (or not) between your legs.
My son is five now. He’s over his nail polish phase. Now he loves to play in his dollhouse. Usually after he’s done smashing the heck out of a pillow with his toy sword. And lady at preschool, if you must know, his father is fine with it.