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When my now six-year-old son was maybe two or three, he became obsessed with sparkly shoes. We had play dates with the little girl who had no lack of pink and red sparkly shoes. It was his favorite thing to raid her closet when we were at their house and bring me all the shiny things he would find.
And then there was the time that he saw me painting my toenails and wanted to do the same. I was hesitant, because Lord knows what my husband would think, but I painted his big toe taupe and it wasn't all that noticeable anyway.
And a great addition to the graduation slideshow will be the photo that I have of him holding my breast pump flange up to his nipple. He saw me nursing his younger sister and wondered if he could make milk also.
Having come from a conservative, religious background, I always believed in distinct gender roles. Even today watching my boy do "girly" things makes me a little antsy. But my son's taste in footwear is not the problem. The problem is me, and my very small perception of masculinity.
If my son grows to be a man who appreciates beauty, respects the female body and knows how to have fun, I'll feel we've done some things right in raising him.
By wanting to paint his toenails, my son shows me he has an appreciation for beauty. More specifically, the beauty he sees in me as I paint mine.
But as he grows, I'll have to trust him a little bit. Okay, a lot. I will have to shut my prejudices up and allow him to find who he's meant to be. Every parent fears for their kids at one point or another. After all, there's no guarantee they'll chose what's right and healthy for them. In fact, it's guaranteed that they will make at least a few choices that are decidedly unhealthy.
Drugs? Abusive relationships? Criminal behavior? There are things worth worrying about, and then there are things like sparkly shoes and painted toenails. If I get the chance to bond with my little boy over a bottle of Butter London, you'd better believe I'm going to take it.