Wet PaintDecember 22, 2010 at 5:00 am | Posted in Giggles | 17 Comments
Tags: Boys, Expectations, Gender Roles, Growing Up, Kids, Motherhood, Nail Polish, Parenting, Perspectives, Stereotypes
As I type this, Giggles sits on the living room rug running his train around its circular track. He has blocks piled high in one car and coins in another. A plastic yellow dump truck is in the middle of the tracks, stuck at a perpetual stop sign as it waits for the train to pass. One of his train cars overturns. Shiny pennies spill on the floor.
“Oh, no! I’ll get it!” he says and rakes the pennies into a pile with his fingernails. His pink fingernails. 42nd Street Fuchsia, to be exact.
I watch him carefully coordinate the clean-up and marvel at my little blond-haired contradiction. He loves his trains and tractors. He loves to hit things and spit. He’s never met a rock he didn’t want to stuff in his pocket or a pile of dirt he didn’t want to scoop up. He often leaps across the floor like a frog.
But he also loves to play “dance class” with his sister. They can spin for hours (or until someone gets dizzy and bonks their head on the coffee table). He cares for baby dolls, feeding them bottles and burping them before singing them a lullaby and putting them gently in a shopping-basket-turned-crib. He shares his peanut butter and jelly sandwich with his favorite stuffed mouse.
He is rough. And gentle. He is tough. And kind. He is rowdy. And nurturing. He is all boy. And he is more than that.
As his mother, I want to keep it that way. I want him to always feel comfortable being himself, and I want him to know I love him. Without condition. And with pink nails.
He’ll have so many people in his life telling him how to act and what to be. He’ll face the same gender expectations that we all come up against. Soon enough, he’ll realize that boys don’t paint their nails.
But not for now. And not from me.
How do you encourage your children to explore all their interests? How do you help them navigate the expectations society places on them? And what’s your favorite nail polish color?