My sons love getting their toenails painted. Why should that wig me out?

Image: Jessica Lucia “tootsies”
By Petula Dvorak

“No more pedicures,” I told my sons.
“Whyyy?” they whined.
“It’s not summer anymore,” I lied.

I have two boys, 7 and 10, who are addicted to pedicures. They love the nail salon’s Captain Picard command bridge chairs with digital massage controls. And the bubbly blue water. And all the women at the salon who dote on them and tickle their little Barney Rubble feet. And they love the colors of the nail polish, which they’ve renamed Bionicle Green, Ravens Purple or Hot Wheels Orange.

But I’m tired. Tired of confronting what a binary, gender-constricted society we live in. Tired of people telling them, “Boys don’t do that.” Tired of the judgment.

This all started in the summer, when we were headed to a wedding. I needed my toes done and had no one to care for the boys. So I took them with me to the nail salon, and they asked if they could sit in the big chairs, too.

I was ready to let them get their feet scrubbed and nasty nails trimmed. But when they saw the wall of cool colors and asked if they could get their toes painted, all eyes peered up over the People and Us magazines to see what I was going to do.

“Okay, if you want. But just for a day or so, then we’ll take it off before taekwondo,” I said.

I knew this probably wasn’t a question of gender identity or sexual orientation. Instead, it was two kids who saw colors and the opportunity to decorate and create art — on themselves!

And I should have been totally okay with it. For the past few years, I have been following a Maryland family and their transgender child, who was born a girl but decided at age 5 that she was a boy. I admired the parents’ strength in their decision to raise their child this way, but once faced with my own children’s gender diversion, I crumbled like a meringue on the inside. I wigged out.

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