Every morning, the first graders all swarm around me in the morning holding out their fists. I’m not sure how I became the ringleader of these massive games of Rock, Paper,Scissors, but once the proverbial genie had been released it wasn’t going back in the bottle because it was having too much fun playing with the grown up before school began.
On this particular morning one of the fingernails of the hands playing was painted bright orange. In the midst of the action, one brash girl stopped so she could tell the
boy who was attached to the orange fingers that it was “against the rules” for
a boy to wear nail polish. She
punctuated her proclamation with an authoritative, “My mom said so.” Another boy chirped that his mom also
said that boys were not allowed to paint their nails—only girls.
The orange-nailed boy quietly slunk away.
As the father of a boy, who on occasion likes to paint his nails, I have some strong opinions on the subject. I told the objectionable kids that everybody has different rules and just because their moms told them one thing doesn’t mean it applies to everyone. It took a lot not to use phrases like “narrow minded” or worse when talking to those kids about their mothers.
The kids scattered to line up when the bell ran. I hugged the Bean, who had witnessed
the whole thing, and reminded him that no matter what anyone else says it’s
okay for anyone to paint their nails if they want to. I then scanned the area for the orange-nailed boy. I spotted him at the front of the line and worked my way around some errant kids to get to him. I tapped him on the shoulder and when he turned around I looked him in the eye and said, “Just so you know, I think your nails are awesome.”
He smiled as he went off to class.