Baby boys and blue nail polish – a Kindergarten journey begins

blue nail polish on my 5yo son's nails

Yesterday was ds’ first day in Kindergarten. And he wore blue nail polish.

It was just on two fingers – but it caused enough of a stir in our household that I wasn’t sure how it was going to play in school.

Two days before Kindergarten, as I was getting dd’s nails ready for her first day of second grade, ds came over and excitedly asked, “Mommy, can you do MY nails, too?!” He looked so eager. Honestly, why shouldn’t he want his nails done? It looked like fun, it meant you got attention fawned on you – at least for as long as it takes for the paint and top coat to be applied – and it left you with colored, shiny nails. Who wouldn’t want that?

And then there’s society. Stupid, *phobic society. Society says only girls wear nail polish. Society says there’s something wrong with boys who wear nail polish. (Unless the boy in question is Steven Tyler. Or Johnny Depp. Of course.)

DH and I tried to convince him that he didn’t need nail polish for his first day of Kindergarten, hoping that holding him off with the excuse of “most boys don’t…” would be sufficient. We didn’t do it for us. We did it for him. And he totally ignored us.

There was pouting and confusion, and ultimately I gave him “shiny nails” – a coat of Seche Clear base coat, followed by a coat of Seche Vite top coat. I wanted him to see how he did with clear shiny nails first, I explained.

After he went to bed, I did some looking around on the Internet, trying to see what other parents did. Mostly, there was a lot of concern about kids being gay or transgendered. Um…SO WHAT? Nail polish love doesn’t mean you’re gay, transgendered or anything other than someone who likes to decorate their body. Most parents seemed to fret somewhat, but various behavioral health specialists pointed out that this was totally normal behavior for a young kid. The boy likes to wear stickers on his shirt, whenever offered one, so what’s the difference between that and nail polish?

As his sister put it, “Nail polish is for girls.” THAT’S the difference. People think nail polish is for girls. And if a boy wants nail polish (unless said boy is Mssrs. Tyler or Depp, natch), said boy must want to be a girl. OH. WE FEAR GIRLS and GIRL BEHAVIOR BY BOYS (except Steven or Johnny) is BAD BAD BAD.

The night before Kindergarten, he approached me again: “Mommy, where are the colors?” (they’d been out when I did dd’s nails)

“Mommy, I want you to paint my nails!”

I sighed and sat him down. I explained that not every kiddo would understand his nails and there’s a chance that they might laugh or make mean comments. He promised he’d say “Gee Whiz!” to them and that he didn’t care, but I know my sweet, sensitive little guy – and he’d care. It would bother him. I steeled myself and told him, “You know what, just tell them you’re a rock star.” He looked at me funnily and agreed, and then I let him pick from a curated selection of sparkly and shiny blues and greens.

He chose an electric blue Wet’n’Wild nail polish dd had gotten at a holiday swap. One coat of that on each thumb, and one more coat of Seche Vite to hold it all together.

But what would hold ME together if someone tried to make fun of my little boy?

I tweeted to my sister about it, showing her the picture, and telling her how fantastic they looked. Being the awesome auntie that she is, she totally approved. I suggested that she get bail money set aside, in case any of the kids in ds’ class decided to make a big deal out of it. Her response, “I’ll tell [my husband], since I’ll be right there with you, kicking ass.” See, I told you: an awesome auntie.

And then the day came, and I went off to work while ds waved to me from the living room. Off he went to his first day of Kindergarten, with his blue thumbs. I had remembered, as I painted his nails, that kids of MY generation often painted our nails with magic marker when we were younger. Boys and girls did it. We were decorating ourselves, as much as we decorated our binders or Trapper Keepers. Would it be the same for him?

When I finally got home, just before dinner went on the table, ds was beaming and couldn’t get out enough “Guess what?!” questions to satisfy his retelling of the day. So many friends, old and new, so many fun things, so many new discoveries, so many hopes for a great year.

The polish was still intact, and when I asked dh if there was a note from the teacher, he said no. Apparently, he’d asked ds how things went with the nail polish, and ds pronounced it as no big deal. Everything went fine.

I know it was just the first day, and I realize that there is always the threat of someone doing or saying something stupid to him about it, but I really hope that this bodes well. Whether he decides to wear nail polish on two fingernails or all ten, whether he decides that this nail polish does or doesn’t mean anything more than body decoration…it’s all up to him.

And what do I think of the nail polish? I think it’s freaking awesome. And I think he’s awesome. And anyone who thinks otherwise…well, the door’s to the left, and don’t let it hit you on the way out.

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