Wearing Nail Polish

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.