"Be who you are…"

Last week I painted my nails for Valentine’s Day.  Hudson saw me and asked that I paint his nails- toes AND fingers.  This is nothing new to me.  He likes it.  He loves the color red.  He loves having painted nails.  
I. Do. Not. Care.  
My husband and Father-in-Law like to give me a hard time about painting them but I only do it because Hudson asks.  And I want to nurture whatever little being he is, and make sure he knows that the things he likes is OKAY, as long as HE likes it for himself and not doing what other people do/like.  I love his independent spirit.  I love that he likes to dress crazy, and wears a tutu every once in a while out of the blue, and likes his nails painted. I love that he thinks his cheap-o Target tennis shoes are super-de fast and that he loves ladybugs.  I love that he is drawn to sparkly things, mud puddles and dirt.   I love every unique little piece of him, whether it is similar to other boys or not.  He is who he is and I love his little heart and soul.
Last week, after I painted his nails, Hudson was watching a movie and out of the blue he said “The boys at school were making fun of me and laughing at my nails.  They called me a girl.”   This broke my heart.  I almost cried.  I went over and hugged him and we talked about it.  I told him that he is not a girl because he has painted nails.  I told him that it is not nice that they said those things and he needs to tell them they are being mean and to talk to a teacher.  I hugged him and told him I loved him and that he can like whatever he likes, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  
“It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”  Words so easy to say- but so hard to live.   Society wants conformity.  Boys should like boy things.  Girls should like girl things.  And it’s okay if a girl likes to play with cars, or baseball, or play in the mud.  No one bats an eye.  But when a boy likes girly things?  It’s wrong.  I hate this about our society. I hate that it is frowned upon, or thought of as “gay,” as if that were so horribly wrong.   And so what if the person IS gay?  If any of my children were to realize later on that they are gay I would not love them any less.  I would embrace them as the person they are.  There is nothing wrong with it.  I would love them for being true to themselves, and not following the crowds.   
This morning he said he didn’t want to go to school because the kids laughed at his nails.   I told him I could take his nail polish off and so we did.   It broke my heart a little bit, because he told me he likes to have his nails painted, but not at school.   I hate that he feels like he has to hide something the he likes.  It would be like me hiding that I like pizza or watching reality tv for fear that people because people made fun of me.  
It makes my heart heavy to think of how I’m going to nurture the little individuals I’m raising and encourage them to be who they are- to love the things they love because it makes THEM happy.  To enjoy doing things that THEY want to do, not what the crowds are doing.  The task seems daunting, and I can only pray I do them justice.  

  1. i have been waiting for this exact moment to happen with max… and totally dreading it. he also loves having his finger/toenails painted. being that he's in kindergarten i was SURE there would be some kids making fun of him. so far it's been okay and he hasn't asked me to take it off or anything. but ugh, this stuff breaks my heart, too.

  2. I've had these conversations with both my kids about various things… and in my mind it's not solely a “be true to yourself” kind of topic. I think it's also about social “norms” –and hear me out here– not in a negative, trying to conform to everyone else type of way, but rather a this is just how things work way. Sawyer LOVES nail polish as well, always has, and appears maybe always will. However, when he started school (grade school, not preschool) and he was still asking for his nails done along with Savannah's, we had a talk about the fact that he is a boy and boys don't typically wear [pink or red or sparkly] nail polish and so we're going to tone that down a little. Just like he likes to dress up in princess stuff with his sister, and that is FINE… but I'm not going to send him to school in a tutu. Not even that it's a boy/girl thing… but kind of a “you're growing up” thing; There came an age where even Savannah needed to put REAL clothes on to go to the grocery store, and not wear her silky princess corset with the plastic heels, and it's the same with the nail polish for Sawyer. For him it's a fun accessory… much like the dressing up for Savannah.If he really wants some polish, we'll do his toenails (yes, his Shrek green pedi is a hit at the pool in the summer!). Or I'll do just one thumbnail with the mood-color-changing polish he loves so much. A full-on manicure just isn't going to happen anymore. And he's totally fine with it.I kind of think it's much the same as other tastes and obsessions any kid has… there are appropriate times and places for different things.Savannah wanted to wear her swimsuit every single day for months one year. That may be fine at home, but obviously you're going to put regular clothes on to go to school. Heck, my son would much rather spend his days shirtless, but that's not culturally, socially what we do, so sorry bud but we're gonna wear shirts to the library. It's not stifling him to have to put clothes on when he'd rather be naked. I'm a stickler on looking nice for church… by no means are we (really anywhere near) “formal”, but I do usually require a collar from Sawyer and most often a skirt/dress/at least a dressy top from Savannah. It's just a respect thing I want to be the norm in our home. And Sawyer, who would live in warm up pants day in and day out if he could, balks at it every week. Sure, he'd like to “express himself” in sweats. But this is the way we do things on Sunday mornings, and he's going to have to live with it while he's here. 🙂 It's not that it's bad or that he might be “different” because he wants to wear sweats… it's just not appropriate at that time.Okay, I'll stop with the novel now. Just don't over analyze it. Hudsons a great, confident kid.I just think this is something fun they like, something that they enjoy, something they have an opinion about, but I don't think it's a huge deal, definitely not something to “hide”… just something we're (in our house anyway) for the most part going to save for the other times and places where it might be more fun to take advantage of. 🙂

  3. Okay, I just reread your post and wanted to add…(sorry)I realize you were actually already talking about social “norms” and conformity and the fact that YOU JUST DON'T LIKE IT.And I guess I just wanted to add: I agree to a point, but also… who cares? Fitting in with our culture and our social “norms” in public and when appropriate… I just feel like sometimes the “evils” of that is made too big a deal of. Like you were saying, yes, it's about staying true to individual likes and dislikes and who cares about what people think. But I guess what I'm also trying to teach my kids is that there doesn't have to be such a connection about the “conformity” and what really makes up your personality. I think there's a certain “maturity” about choosing the time and place to be as individual as you want to be. I feel like our country makes such a big deal about it these days when it's really not. That we have the right to do what we want, when we want, how we want all the time, you know, so we always need to exercise that right. When really… do we honestly need to all the time?Does that make sense?Anyway. Just wanted to try and clarify my usual senseless blathering. Probably didn't anyway, but oh well. 😉

  4. I have 4 kids, only 1 of which is a daughter. She is 13 1/2yrs old & just got her 1st pair of women's jeans. She has always worn the same ones as her almost 16yr old brother. Same goes for wearing concert tees & converse. She has ALWAYS preferred this type of wardrobe instead of cutesy girl clothes. She never cared because I told her if she likes doing it & it doesn't hurt anyone (including her feelings/self esteem), then she can let her little freak flag fly!! The same would go for any of my boys at almost 16, 10, & 9mths if they wanted to paint their nails, grow their hair long or dye it, wear pink, or even take ballet. 🙂

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