Monthly Archives: April 2011

Can Little Boys Wear Nail Polish?

Foxnews.com the other day posted what may be the most ignorant article I’ve ever read, an article written by “psychologist” Keith Ablow. The article was lambasting J. Crew’s decision to run an advertisement with J. Crew’s president painting her son’s toenails pink. The reaction was an ensuing debate on our kids’ so-called ‘gender identity’.

Gender identity and stereotypes, first and foremost, are social and cultural constructs. Girls aren’t born with the innate sense to want to paint their toenails, toenail painting is largely reserved for females because society deems toenail painting a female trait. Simple as that.

Throughout history, men and women have had a certain set of roles to play. What many of the critics of the J. Crew ad fail to realize is that gender roles change with history. Men and women of ancient China and Egypt painted their nails, as doing so was a sign of social status. Little boys up into the mid 19th century regularly wore dresses, and before the World Wars, the color pink was considered the domain of boys, not girls.

A recent debate ensued on Facebook about if painting toenails (and an ad showing a boy getting his toenails painted) is part of a rise in effeminacy amongst males in our society. For some, it would seem that crossing gender lines leads to effeminacy leads to homosexuality (I know, right? The horror that your son might “become” gay!  /end sarcasm).

But again, the fact is that effeminacy is only dictated by the society in which it exists. Some may use a Biblical argument, that the Bible has laws against effeminacy. Look no further than Deuteronomy 22:5:

A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.

But what is “men’s clothing”? Women didn’t wear trousers until the mid 19th century and even then, it didn’t become common in the United States until after World War II. See where I’m going? Even a Biblical argument is flawed. Of course, it makes more sense when you eventually come to realize–even if you’re a Christian–that the Bible is constrained by the social, historical, and literary contexts of its time, but that’s another discussion.

The fact is, effeminacy 1) is shaped by the society in which it exists and 2) isn’t that big of a deal anyway.

If Parker wants to paint his toenails, I have no problem with that. His painting his toenails is not against the law, or dangerous, or detrimental to his well-being. I would rather my son be happy with painted toenails, than discouraged because his parents told him he couldn’t paint his toenails because it would lead him down the path to destruction.

I’ve said it before, but my son’s sexuality and gender identity is pretty low on the “things I ultimately care about” list. First and foremost, I want my son to lead a happy, healthy, and productive  life. Secondly, I want him to have parents that always support him. And three, I don’t believe that painting your toenails leads to effeminacy, and even if it does, I don’t believe effeminacy prevents one from leading a healthy, emotionally well life. I’ll wear nail polish with sandals if you want me to, I don’t care.

Parker loves Abby from Sesame Street. He sleeps with an Abby doll at bedtime. I’m not going to discourage him from liking what he likes, or redirect his attention to more “male” characters because that’s what a little boy “should” like.

Love your kids and love them for being them.

Life becomes busy again

Winter, for all that we complain about the weather, tends to be our “downtime” in our family. As it seems from spring through fall, we’re pretty constantly on the go.

April, for us, marks the beginning of busy season again. But at the same time, it’s great for us. It gets us out of the house into the sunshine again, we don’t feel like a bunch of caged animals all the time.

I, for one, am pining to be able to write these blogs outside, in the sunroom, on a warm spring or summer evening, while Parker enjoys being in his backyard again.

Around this time last year, we had just gone under contract for our house, and a year later, I’m sitting in it. I’m excited to actually enjoy a spring in it (since we didn’t move in last year until almost summer).

But life will be busy again. Weekends jammed with going to the zoo, or doing housework, or visiting our families. Vacations are again to be had. But it’s a wonderful time of year for our family, especially as Parker gets older and more and more gets to enjoy the life that he lives.

It’s fortunate what we have. Our friend just had two of her friends lose everything in an apartment fire, and my heart just feels so sad for them. It’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes times like that to realize what you have. We’re going through some of our clothes tonight so that she can give them some things of ours.

But you think about this and many people go through this every day. How fortunate I am to be writing this blog, sitting on my new netbook, in the living room of the house I own. Life is too easy to take for granted, when you can literally lose everything in the blink of an eye.

This weekend, we’re going to our friend’s coming home party. He and his brother just served nearly a year in Afghanistan as Marines. Giving up everything they had, running the risk of losing their lives, to help others. It only seems fitting to be thankful for what we have.

This post has been more rambling than anything, but I guess the point is, be thankful for being busy. Even though it may drive you crazy or stress you out, be thankful you have the ability to enjoy your life.

Sentences

‘Arker? Nap…yesh.

That was one of the ‘sentences’ that Parker spouted off the other day when it was time for a nap. Sentences in the toddler would generally aren’t well structured or grammatically correct, but it’s more the ability to string together multiple thoughts at a single time, generally applying a verb to a noun or answering their own question.

It’s hard to believe how well he has started communicating with us. We actually have legitimate back-and-forths now (usually him simply telling us ‘no’ to something we ask, but that’s okay). He’s also started following verbal directions more. As I typed this, I yelled into the living room for Parker to come give me a kiss, and in he came and a kiss I got. He’s also starting to pick up on cues based on a situation he might be in. In church, he knows he can’t yell, and if he thinks what he just did was too loud for church, he’ll say “shhhhh”.

He likes to help out around the house now, pre-empting what he does with a “thank you”. For instance, he’ll hand us a dish from the dishwasher and say “thank you” as he hands it to us. He helps pick up toys, he’ll close the door for us.

You think a kid can’t change much more than from birth to age 1, but I’d say age 1 to age 2 gives it a run for its money. While most of the change that occurs in the first year is mostly physical, it seems the second year is mostly emotional and mental. You think of the milestones in the first year: holding their head up, rolling over, crawling, cruising, walking, and then the second year: words, puzzles, sentences, identification of objects.

And of course, for me, the understanding of his language. Of course his words aren’t completely clear yet, so translating becomes a big part of what I do, but on the bright side, he’s willing to keep saying what he wants to say until you understand.

This year has been a lot of fun, and next month, we’ll be halfway through the second year, on the downhill to age 2. What more can he learn in just four months?