I’m assuming you probably don’t want to make your spouse sound like a conservative. But in case you do, I found a way to do it.
I don’t wear nail polish. I keep my nails short. I work with my hands a lot, and any polish would be quickly scratched and chipped. I hate the way it smells, and I imagine that it leaches everything good and pure out of my nails. The last time I wore it was years ago, when I was in a friend’s wedding. She got us manicures for the bridesmaids gifts. It made me nervous.
Nail polish was responsible for the first time I was passive-aggressive on a plane. Some might argue that I was responsible for the discourtesy. Possibly. But when the person ahead of me started painting her nails and then using the ceiling blowers to dry them, I could not be silent. “God! That STINKS!” I hollered. She didn’t stop, but I felt better.
So I am perplexed as to why John wants his nails painted.
He’s been asking for the last 18 months or so. I’ve been putting him off, because I dislike nail polish, not because I don’t think boys should wear nail polish. Please note the difference; it will appear later.
“It stinks,” I said. “It hurts your nose. You have to sit for half an hour to wait for it to dry. You can’t touch anything, or it will be wrecked. You can’t even scratch your nose. It makes your nails weak and it’s sticky. And when you ride your bike, if you fall down they’ll be chipped right away.”
“I know,” he said bravely.
We finally got some last week. I figured it would be a good opportunity to show him that while nail polish might look cool, it is a pain in the ass and thus undesireable. What I’m hoping is that I didn’t teach him that you cannot have beauty without pain.
We went to Target and I let him pick out whatever color he wanted. Actually, that is not quite true. He picked out Mauve Frost and I promptly veoted it. Yes, I am the same mom who defends my son’s favorite color choice by saying “All colors are for all people.” Mauve Frost is not a color; it is a chemical combination that doesn’t exist in nature and certainly isn’t stable enough to be purchased and brought home. Which is essentially what I told him. “Ew, yucky chemical in this one,” I said, pretending to read the label. He knows my penchant for label-reading and has heard the lectures on organic foods; he accepted what I had to say.
We brought home a small bottle of petal pink and called Matt. I figured I’d let John break the news.
Either he spoke incoherently, or Matt refused to believe. When I got on the phone, he said, “WHAT did John say?”
“We got some nail polish at Target. I’m going to paint his nails before lunch.”
Matt was silent. I could hear the radio playing at the jobsite. Finally, he said, “You’re trying to turn me into a conservative, aren’t you?”
“Heh,” I said, interested in where he was going to take this.
“You could have told him that nail polish is for grown-up women, not five-year-old boys.”
“Kids in day care wear it.”
“Maybe,” I said. I think I remember a boy wearing it when the kids were three, and I think it was blue polish. But I could be making that up, too.
A sigh. “It had better be gone before we march with the building trades in the parade this weekend.”
“It should be. It’ll chip. And I’ll just put on one coat, anyway.”
“No, it WILL be gone. Jeez. I sound so…intolerant!”
Well, at least he recognized that. “Look, the problem is not him wearing nail polish. You’ll be pissed when your daughter wants to wear it, too. The problem is nail polish in general. We’ll do it once, he’ll see it’s a pain in the ass, and that’ll be it.”
No one likes to be told what they think. But Matt was silent again. Finally he said, “I don’t like it! You know I don’t! But I don’t like talking about why I don’t like it, because I don’t like the way I sound when I do.”
“I know,” I said.
I painted John’s nails. He only wanted his thumbs, pinkies and middle fingers painted. It made the house reek. It made Gorm sneeze and Maia’s eyes water. John hated it. He hated sitting for 20 minutes without touching anything, not even a book. He loved the color.
This was a week ago, and he has not mentioned nail painting since.