Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gender-Bending Glitter Is Gold for My Son ; Kathy Briccetti Lives with Her Family and a Bottle of Nail-Polish Remover in Berkeley, Calif

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gender-Bending Glitter Is Gold for My Son ; Kathy Briccetti Lives with Her Family and a Bottle of Nail-Polish Remover in Berkeley, Calif

Article excerpt

As I helped my four-year-old son, Morgan, pull off his sand- filled shoes and soiled socks after preschool, I noticed clear glitter nail polish on his toenails. I glanced at his fingernails and saw that they were lacquered too.

"Who put polish on your nails?" I asked him, keeping my voice neutral.

He looked carefully at my face, trying to read my expression.

"Sarah," he said, looking down. "She put it on lots of kids."

"Well," I paused. "It looks great! I love the sparklies; I want some for my nails."

He smiled at me and ran into the house.

The next day I told his teacher, Sarah, a woman in her twenties with bleached white hair and a nose ring, that I loved the glitter nail polish. She let out a big sigh.

"Oh, good. I was a little worried that some parents would get mad at me; maybe they don't have any remover at home, or they didn't like it."

"This is our kids' last chance," I said, "to get

away with things like polish and dress-up." I thought of how Morgan's older brother had immediately tossed out his maroon socks when he started elementary school because they were "too pink." I sounded confident, but I wasn't admitting my reservations. What was next? Misty mauve, midnight metal?

I remember my surprise when Morgan's preschool teachers invited the girls to come out from the playhouse and squirt the hose in the sandbox. And when I picked up Morgan and he was dancing in a pink tutu with a huge grin on his face. I've learned from the preschool teachers that I can let my boys play with both "boy" and "girl" things.

But, as I emptied the sand out of Morgan's shoes on the front steps, I remembered that he would run barefoot on the mats at his gymnastics class later that day, his toenails glistening in the fluorescent light.

I pictured some of the parents giving me disapproving looks, and I wondered if the teacher, a college gymnast with bulging biceps, would tell Morgan that polish is only for girls and make him feel ashamed for wearing it. …

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