“I’m jealous,” Zachary announced to his father. He is our first child, so we have made the mistake of teaching a four-year-old the word “jealous,” an error we will attempt to avoid repeating with the other two. He definitely overuses that term. He continued: “All the Gesher girls get to wear nail polish.” Gesher is the class above his, and he has become quite the hot item with the five-year-old girls. “Why don’t I get to wear nail polish?”
Now, there are a couple of ways J could have answered this. He could have informed his child that rules vary in each house and life is unfair. However, Zach has already figured this out, as we unfairly refuse to buy him things that everyone else has. J also could have parroted what I always say about dresses, which is that he is welcome to wear one to school is he would really like, but he is likely to be teased. He actually has no interest in wearing one, having decided that he is a boy and boys don’t wear dresses, but he does think this is an unfair rule imposed arbitrarily upon his gender. (One that, I suspect, he would enforce nonetheless were his brother to wear a dress.)
J and I have never talked about nail polish. We have talked about the makeup and ear piercing rules, which, although they largely fall to me, we agree upon. Children do not wear makeup or earrings, so when you are an adult, you may have those things. Bar/Bat Mitzvah age, in other words, because we have no hope of making them wait till legal adulthood. We have avoided being asked about makeup and earrings because I rarely wear them and J never does. Nor do I wear nail polish, but apparently I am no longer the child’s standard of feminine beauty.
“In this house,” J replied, “you cannot wear nail polish until you are thirteen.” I suspect that means we’ll be hearing about the unfair rules for the next nine years, but I don’t care. Makeup and nail polish are sexualizing items, used mostly (although of course not exclusively) by women to demonstrate their sexual attractiveness. I think they are completely inappropriate on little girls, and around here we don’t discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or gender. The rules in this house apply to everyone.
Later, J told me the story, and I was delighted that, without even discussing it, we were on the same page. “You can also tell him,” I added, “that nail polish has toxic chemicals that we don’t put on our bodies.”
Dude was way ahead of me. “I told him that, too.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I love my husband. It’s a good thing I do, because in a few years, the kids are all going to hate us.