Monday morning I was distracted when Lee passed by carrying a handful of markers. When it occurred to me to ask what he planned to do with them, his answer surprised me: "Paint my fingernails."
The next time I saw him, his fingernails were a peculiar shade of green. Daniel's were blue-ish brown. I talked them into leaving Eliza's alone.
"Mom, can you paint our toes, too?" Lee asked.
We went back to my bathroom and sifted through the available colors (left over from college). They picked brown and red after I told them my collection didn't include the requested green.
They sat still for two minutes while I painted. That's a record for sitting-still time, in case you're counting. After I finished they ran fifty laps around the porch and house to try to expedite the drying process.
Today is Wednesday, and it's still there.
We've been to the playground, the library, the grocery store, and Biltmore Farm. We haven't been around other kids, and none of the adults we've seen have commented on their rainbowed toes.
We live in Asheville, after all, where men stay home with the kids, have long hair, and wear earrings. The gender lines are blurry here.
I told them when I was painting, "Usually girls are the ones who wear toenail polish." They didn't care.
We don't emphasize gender stereotypes, but I recognize boys with painted toenails may make people squeamish. We'll probably take it off tonight just to avoid any potential uncomfortable situations.
For a few days, it was nice to see my boys enjoy something they thought was pretty. Without shame, without reservation, and without ulterior motives.
Little feet with red and brown toenails pressing the pedal of a rusty green tractor. For me, that's The Image of innocence and beauty.