It’s summer! It’s sandal season, and I don’t have great toes. I’m not sure what great toes are, but I’m pretty sure mine are not it. So, in an effort to compensate for what I consider my non-foot model feet, I wear polish on my toe nails during the summer. I also have 3 and 4 year old sons.
Some people may wonder what one has to do with the other. Many moms of sons or daughters who are this age have probably figured it out. My sons like to do what I do. On the days I wear makeup, it’s not unusual for one of them to grab my eyelash curler and pretend with it for a while. On days when I dry my hair, they are really interested in my hair dryer. On days when I paint my toe nails, they want theirs painted also. And, I do it.
In our house, I try very hard not to make gender statements or to assume that because they are boys they will choose one activity or toy over another. We have both babies and cars. We have a stroller (which my Kael calls the “racing stroller”) and we have tools. We have books, puzzles, Duplo Legos, airplanes, emergency vehicles, and probably a hundred other toys. For his birthday, Asa is going to get a ring sling for his baby and his monkey which he currently carries under his shirt. My boys often ask for blankets to be used as capes or to be put on as dresses so they can be princesses. I neither encourage nor discourage any of these types of play. If they ask, I will help them be princesses, but I don’t get the blanket out and say, “Asa, do you want to play princess?” Just as I don’t get out the fire trucks and say, “Asa, do you want to play rescue heroes?”
I have to admit as I write this, it feels uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable with labeling these things as girly or boyish even if it’s only by contrasting one with another. I don’t like that they play they way that they do, but neither do I mind. It’s their play, it’s not mine.
But. Yes, of course, but. There’s always a but, right? In this case, for some reason or another, I don’t want them to wear toe nail polish. I don’t know what it is. Is it peer pressure? Is it gender stereotyping? Am I afraid someone might say something to one of the boys about it? Maybe it’s all of those. I don’t know. I am uncomfortable with the nail painting, but I do it. I know that there are many gender roles and stereotypes in the world, but I don’t want to be my child’s first introduction to the limits that society may place on him.
Am I alone in my feelings? Does anyone else hesitate to (or not allow) paint their preschool boys’ nails?
I think the reason this bothers me is that of all the things that my boys do that is not typical of their gender, this seems so minuscule in comparison. I want to be okay with it, but for some reason I’m not.