The Post Where I Kind of Lose My Shit

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*Disclaimer: This is a full on momma bear rant. I have discussed the issue with the person I’m talking about in this post though *shockingly* I got absolutely no where. I don’t know that writing this post will serve any purpose other than making me feel a little better. But it’s my blog so I can do that. And I’m posting the disclaimer because it’s your life and you can move on if you’re not interested. (I won’t be offended) For a more positive spin on a similar topic, I will refer you to this post that my friend shared with me.*

I’m feeling kind of crabby today.  Maybe it’s because my house is half torn apart while I’m having new flooring put down and nothing is where I need it to be.  Maybe it’s because I’m sleeping next to Abram (because my house is half torn apart and I can’t sleep in Violet’s bed because it hurts my back) and he is the suction cup of snugglers and I need room to breathe when I sleep so I’m not sleeping very well.  Maybe it’s because I quit smoking about two months ago and managed to gain 10 pounds which I did not need to gain and I’m now in the process of losing those 10 pounds by eating things like roasted chickpeas when I’d rather be eating my kids Easter candy.  Or maybe it’s because my son came home really upset at being called a girl. By a grown adult man. (And while I’m kind of offended that the worst thing you can call a six year old boy is a girl, it really is the worst.)

The reason a grown adult man would call a six year old boy a girl? He paints his finger nails. And only girls do that. (Yes, the picture at the top is badly painted toenails, not fingernails, but you get the idea)

And here’s the thing: this isn’t my first go ’round.  We’ve talked about it. He’s heard things from his friends and the conversations have been had – different parents have different rules, people have different styles, kids may tease him, but if he likes it and can handle the teasing, they’re his nails.

But when an adult teases my son (even “good-naturedly”) and calls him a girl because he likes nail polish, the conversation changes. It’s no longer a peer to peer interaction. It’s another adult telling him who he’s allowed to be and it’s an authority figure picking on a child. And that is not okay. Ever.

And when I tell that adult to stop and get a lecture on gender…well, I’m just mad.

I get that not every parent is going to raise their children the same way I raise mine (Violet never misses the opportunity to tell me about how some other mom is nicer than me) and I get that societies have societal norms because that’s how societies work. I even understand that one of our (outdated) societal rules is that girls wear nail polish and boys don’t. But if it doesn’t exist already, I’d like to put forward a new rule:

Let’s not make a six year old kids feel like garbage over something as trivial as nail polish.

In fact, let’s go so far as to say:

Making rude and hurtful comments to anyone when they do something different than you but has absolutely no impact on your life is just wrong.

Okay?

Okay.

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  • I’m so sorry you and Abram are going through this, Kate. It makes me really angry to know that you have tried to deal with this issue by talking to the adult male in question and have gotten nowhere. Argh! A few years ago I read The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, and he has a chapter about (essentially) calling a spade a spade — in other words, if a person is being a jerk, sometimes you just need to point out that the person is being an effing jerk (in the hopes that they will reflect on their behaviour and work to change it, the thought being that no one *actually* wants to BE a jerk…). So I don’t know if you’ve actually called the man a jerk to his face, or if you’ve tried to take the high road and be nice about it all … ?? FWIW, I have been steeling myself to do just this myself (should the need arise) in order to address an adult male’s predilection for disrespecting my younger son’s name. (And yes, this is an issue which is of a MUCH lesser magnitude than what you’re dealing with, but which still bothers me enormously … ).

    Good luck with all this, Kate.

    • Thank you, Marian. I don’t think this guy has any problem being a jerk. He is morally opposed to how I’m raising my son and somehow moral opposition = be as big of a jerk as you want. Thankfully, when I shared my post on FB some of his classmates’ moms saw the post and they sent pictures and stories of their own sons and painted nails. Some of the boys in his class are painting their own nails and one man painted his in sparkles for when he does pick up today. People are good.

      • Leave it to a Canadian to suggest a problem can be solved by informing a jerk that he’s not being very nice. (Sheesh, I’m rolling my eyes at the fact that I’m such a stereotype. Sorry, Kate!)

        I think it’s FANTASTIC that your fellow moms and their sons are rallying around Abram — that warms my heart!

        • Ha! I love it! Canada seems more and more appealing all the time. We talk about “Midwestern nice” and I think there is a lot of that here, but Canada seems to be on a completely different level! 🙂

  • This chaps my ass…A young man that goes to school with my nephew…both are 7 years old was teased today being called a girl. This was because he decided it would be fun to paint his fingernails. You would expect kids to do something like this but it was an adult male , I believe over the age of 25. This guy is an asshat. So to show support my nephew ask his mom if he could wear fingernail polish to show his friend support (again 7 years old) she said yes. It just so happens I have to pick him up from school tomorrow. So being the uncle and crusader I am I told my sister I will pick him up with fingernail polish on. She in turn told my nephew (who thinks its cool) and the boy who was teased, she told his mother what I was doing. I am going to his classroom to show him there is nothing wrong with a man wearing fingernail polish. Shame on the guy who teased a little kid. If I hear he does it again..I am taking my polished fingers and kicking his ASS. So guys reading this take up you fingernail polish (or your wives or girlfriends) and show your support of little men what to be their own person. Share your pics…I will be sharing mine. I think it time to show support and start a movement.

    • I really appreciate you. I saw the pictures of your nails posted on Facebook and I’m so grateful for you and all the people who are showing Abram kindness.

  • No need for a disclaimer or to make your message softer by designating it a momma bear rant. It’s hardly a rant, and you are absolutely correct to be angry and to speak out. This (painting nails) is NOT a moral issue. If it is, then we are saying that all transgender people are, by definition, immoral. (And I’m not saying that Abram is transgender. But if it is somehow immoral for those with male sexual organs to dress in ways that have traditionally been associated with those who have female sexual organs, then we are saying that transgender people are immoral if they dress in accordance with who they are.) What is a moral issue is making someone else feel bad for doing something that hurts no one else. This kind of thing makes me just furious!

    • I appreciate your reminder that some things can be spoken with force and without apology. When I was younger, I spoke a little too strongly a lot too often and now I often swing in the other direction. Eventually I’ll find the balance. (Or not, and I’ll just keep working on it.)

      And I agree with you completely. The hard part is that there are still those who feel that transgender people dressing in accordance to who they are IS immoral and I happen to live in an area where there are enough of those people that they can often get away with saying things. I’m still boggled by a grown man who felt the need to shame a CHILD for nail polish. Thankfully, it’s changing more and more.

      • Ah, you know: Voice is my word for the year. I do find myself noticing issues of voice all the time now.

        I am also boggled (and dismayed) that an adult would do that to a child. I have the most adorable photo of my son playing dress-up with my daughter when he was about 4. He was just having fun, trying stuff out. I encouraged him to do that with all kinds of things at that age. Still do. But he hates that picture and doesn’t want anyone to see it. It kills me that he doesn’t see what I do in it: a joyful, curious, creative boy doing the important worknof childhood.

        • Of all the things I hate seeing my kids lose as they get older is the unguarded, unashamed willingness to TRY. Anything. They are starting to notice what people think and say and while I know it will get much worse before it gets better, I miss Abram playing hair dresser with dollies (and me), I miss Violet’s every color mismatched outfits.

          And I love that voice is your word of the year, I love how you’re using it! I can’t say I’m doing very well with calm. I created a bit of a kerfluffle with this post!

          • I just have to chime in here and say it doesn’t always happen, that kids lose their willingness to be unguarded and to try things — my older two are (somehow) amazingly self-confident and absolutely willing to put themselves out there, even when there’s a risk that others may laugh at them or think they’re “different”. My 17 year old son recently donned a very questionable outfit and did a dance, onstage, for a high school assembly. And just a couple of weeks ago he asked me how to remove lipstick — he had been out with friends the night before (and quite honestly I didn’t want to ask too many questions, so I don’t have a lot of details as to what occurred, but clearly they had a lot of fun, out in public, the guys (all straight as far as I know) wearing lipstick).