Friday, November 11, 2011

Boys don't wear nail polish!

My boys and I were relaxing on my bed last night just before bed. The littlest, Goose, being nosy, decides to dig through my "Mommy" drawer and finds a bottle of clear coat nail polish with glitter. My oldest, Bubba, sees it, takes it from his brother and holds the bottle up into the light and asks me what it is. The swirling glitter has them both entranced. I tell them that it's nail polish and describe how it's applied. Bubba then asks me to put some on his finger. Uh do I answer?

I've never been one to stick to the implied rules of society. I mean, I don't break the law and I try to follow the Ten Commandments as best as I can, but gender roles and social norms...if they seem to hamper my style and personality, I'll dismiss them. I'll admit, I've caught a lot of flak for my decisions but the burden was mine to shoulder as it is for every individual who makes a choice to stand on their own, away from the crowd. But we are talking about my boys now. Do I want them to be raised to be individuals who move to their own beat created by their own rhythm? Absolutely. But can I handle watching them be teased, ridiculed or even shunned for their choices. Do I want them to grow up being called "weird" "odd" or "difficult" just like Mommy was (and still is called) by some?

The answer is no, I do not, however what I will try to do is raise them with enough pride and self-esteem that those words will not sting as much. I will raise them to know that being the odd one out is not that bad, and that being "one of the crowd" can be overrated. The funny thing about life is that in our adolescent years, the years that are the most vital in forming who we are and how we'll contribute to society, those years are when it is hammered into us to conform, to fit in, to be the same, to do what all the rest of the typical kids are doing. It's not until we finally get out into the world that many of us realize that we really don't want to fit in with everyone else...we really want to be our own individual selves. Ironically, it's when we are adults that fitting in and conforming IS a necessity. So by that logic, should youth be the time when we encourage the stretching of imaginations, the reaching for seemingly unattainable goals and the testing of the boundaries of "normal"?

So back to last night. I am an individual who doesn't care what people think about her most of the time, but I am also aware that not everyone around me may agree with my stances, including my husband and other members of my family, so I compromise.

"I have a better idea," I tell Bubba. "How about we put some on your big toenails instead?"

I didn't tell him no, I didn't have to say anything about how the world of nail polish and glitter is only for girls, but I did get to allow him the experience he desired in a modest way. It's cold and will be for a while. No one will see his feet but us at home, so no worries of teasing or criticizing of him or my parenting skills. I paint his big toenails and then those of his little brother, who refused to be left out of anything his big brother was doing.

"I have sparkly toes! My toes are sparkly!" he says, studying them carefully. Then he decides that he doesn't like sparkly toes, and that's fine. At least I gave him the opportunity to test it out. If it's within reason, I will always let my children test things out. Given the chance, most often, they will make the decision that everyone really wants them to make. Out of repression comes defiance. It pays to remember that the next time your son asks to play with a "girl" toy or your daughter refuses to wear a dress.


  1. You are such a great parent and writer ;)

  2. Thanks Etzy! It takes a great parent to know a great parent!