Let them be

Kyle's hand by Henna Neill

I was going through some posts that I hadn’t gotten around to finishing yet. This was from a few months ago, when it was summer:

The other day, my son was happily playing along with his older female cousins. When they decided to do each other’s nails, my son wanted his done, too. It looked like fun and the colors were pretty.

They let him pick whatever color he wanted and voila. He had rock star nails. 🙂

Later that evening, he ran into some of his friends — and their parents — and they good naturedly teased him about his nails. (I have no doubt that no one was trying to make him feel awkward.)

He laughed along. But, when we returned home, he asked me to take his nail polish off.

As I was wiping the polish off his tiny fingernails, I told him that there’s nothing wrong with nail polish on boys or girls, just as there’s nothing wrong with pierced ears (at an appropriate age) on girls or boys. That there is no toy that is the property of one gender, just as there is no career that only boys can do and not girls. That pink isn’t just for girls and blue isn’t just for boys. And that it’s great for boys to do ballet, just as it is for girls to play hockey.

Honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. But it made my heart hurt a little that that he is just out of kindergarten and is already learning that there are different expectations for little boys and little girls.

Children are sponges who are learning that there’s a whole world out there to absorb. Let them be.

©2014 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved 

Comments (6)

  1. paradelle says:

    you’re a wonderful mom 🙂

  2. Lauren Miller says:

    This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Matt says:

    When I was little, my sisters painted my toes and fingers and it was so much fun. I remember a friend of my parents saying it was inappropriate for boys to have finger nails painted. This was long before the days of actors and musicians wearing polish. Anyhow, long story short. I am gay. And to this day my parents’ friend says I “turned gay” because they allowed me to wear nail polish. I thank God that my parents just let me be and didn’t try to change me. For parents of that era, they were very open minded.

  4. Tina says:

    I’m sorry that he felt bad. 🙁 I hate that adults try to box children into gender roles. My mom freaked out when my younger brother wanted to play with my dollhouse and play kitchen. She was afraid that would make him “gay.”

  5. sandra says:

    lovely, just lovely. I love your writing and hope that you continue to tell your son that he can be whatever he wants to be. and fyi, why parents are so worried about their children being gay is beyond me. it’s not something we have control over.

  6. sashimidimsum says:

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