This morning the girls found my nail polish bin. Amelié, my niece, picked out a hot pink and gave it to me. I sat her on the floor and began painting her nails. Marjorie followed suit with a bright yellow colored polish. Manning came in and asked what we were doing. I told him we were having a mani party. He pensively thought for a moment and then asked if boys could wear nail polish.
“Of course they can!” I said. I told him anyone can wear anything they like. He picked green for his color and sat in front of me. I immediately thought of how many of my conservative friends and family would totally disagree with what I was about to do. But the moment went far beyond the gender standards that make so many uncomfortable.
I want to raise my son in a home where he is loved no matter what. I want Manning to know that he can be anything he wants and nothing in this world or this life is off limits.
Growing up, I was shoved in the ‘Girl Box’ and I hated it. I was tall and blonde so naturally I should just make pretty babies – or at least that is what people told me. Literally. I heard it all the time and it made my skin crawl. I was and am more than a body and more than my gender and appearance. And so are my children.
Manning is more than just ‘a boy’. I refuse for anyone to put him in the ‘Boy Box’. Manning was born with a soft heart and creative spirit. I want him to investigate and try everything this world has to offer.
After our Mani party this morning, I thought about a young boy I saw on the Ellen show in April. His name was Reuben de Maid. I was blown away by his voice, but even more shocked at his make up. Not necessarily that it was a boy wearing make up, but how flawless and gorgeous he was.
In the interview, Reuben tells Ellen how he was bullied for wearing make up. My heart broke hearing that. His talents – both in singing and make up – should be applauded not taunted. But kids can be mean. No, actually, it is the parents that pass on these gender boxes and blockades instead of teaching their children they can do and be anything.
I am by no means waiving my Perfect Parent Flag. I definitely don’t own that flag. If I did have the flag, it would be stained and probably missing only to be found later under the couch in a sea of stale goldfish. I screw up this parenting thing on the daily. The only thing I try really hard to get right is reminding my children to be kind and that they are loved no matter where they go in life, what they wear and certainly who they love.
Love is love is love. Finger nail polish, make up, legos, ninja kicks belong to every one. Nothing ‘turns’ someone gay and if it does, since when is being gay a bad thing?
Manning will start Kindergarten this week.
So to you, my sweetest Manning…May you know that you are loved beyond measure as you start your school career. I pray you remember our daily house mantra to be kind and treat everyone with kindness, no matter how different they may seem. I hope you always remain true to who you are and keep that creative spark ignited. The world and kids can be cruel sometimes, but your dad and I will be here with open arms. We can’t fix every problem or erase the sadness, but we will sit with you in the hurt. We will let you fall and we will help you rise back up. We will encourage you to try new things and remind you of how brave you are.
The world is yours, our sweet son. Never stop being you. Nail polish, ninja kicks, arrows and all.
We love you always.