August 4, 2013

Half Goth, Half Purple


I am in the habit of keeping polish on my toenails. It’s something I can do to be me even when I’m at work — no one sees it and the likelihood of accidental discovery are low (when do I take my shoes and socks off at work?). I’ll clean it off when I know my feel will be exposed, like when I’m going to have the kids overnight, but otherwise it’s become such a normal thing with me that I often forget I wear it.

Yesterday, I happened to have my toes polished in a very deep metallic purple shade called Wined and Dined — you can see a great shot of the color here. [And seriously, how could I not resist that color? It hits all of my color preferences.] I’d painted them nearly a week ago, so the fact that they were polished had more or less escaped my mind. I just didn’t notice, not to the degree that, as I was heading out to pick up my kids for the evening, I even gave a thought to removing the polish. As it is summer, I slipped on a pair of canvas shoes — sockless — and headed out the door.

Later that evening, as I was cooking the kids dinner, I kicked off my shoes. It didn’t even occur to me that I was now barefoot and polished in front of my kids. At least, it didn’t occur to me until my nine year old son came into the kitchen to get a drink. He was standing around the kitchen, chugging cold water, when all of a sudden I hear, “Why do you have purple on your toes?!”

winedanddinedcolorMy first thought was, Aw, crap. My second thought was, At least I didn’t choose Teak Rose this week.

I decided to play it casual. “I’ve got purple on there because I wanted it on there,” I said.

He shrugged. “Okay.” He kept looking down at them for a second. “They’re like half Goth, half purple.” Then he set his cup on the counter and wandered back to his room.

Wait, that was it?! Of all three of my kids, my son is the one I have been worried the most about when it comes to being trans. He’s not only the oldest, he’s also the most sensitive when it comes to “boy things” and “girl things”. He doesn’t like to even touch things that are pink!

And yet, he barely thought twice about it. I guess “because I wanted to” was a good enough reason.  It surprised me … but not as much as the fact that my nine year old knows what “Goth” is.

Now that the cat was out of the bag, I figured there was no point in putting my shoes back on. Surprisingly, my five year old, who is usually very observant, didn’t notice my toes for several hours. It wasn’t until we were cuddled up on the couch later watching some Supernatural, my feet up on the ottoman, that she finally saw them.  “Dad, why are your toenails painted?! Only girls paint their nails.”

Sigh … 

“I wanted to. And besides, guys paint their nails.”

She gave me a suspicious grin. “No they don’t.”

“Sure they do.”

“No. Only girls paint their nails.”

I pulled out my phone. “I bet you I can find pictures of guys with painted nails.”

The grin widened. “No you can’t! Only girls paint their nails.”

Ah, my sweet daughter, ignorant of the power of Google Image Search. A quick query for “men with painted nails” later, I was showing her pictures on men in nail salons, baseball players with polished digits, even Johnny Depp sporting some color.

“Here’s one. Do you believe me now?”


Swipe. “Here’s another one. Believe me now?”

She shook her head vigorously. “No!”

Swipe. “How about now?”

By this time, she was grinning ear to ear. She had been proven wrong, but she’s a stubborn one. It was a game at this point. “No! Only girls paint their nails!”

I ruffled her hair. “Then I guess daddy must be a girl.”

“No you’re not, you’re my daddy!”

At that point we wrestled for a second, then got back to watching the show. Painted nails or not, I was still her daddy, and at the moment that was fine with me.

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  • Our kids tend to love us no matter what–at least until they turn into moody teenagers. I wish you luck as you and your family start navigating the changes in your life. I hope you can be more and more relaxed about being yourself and that they will be your loving, supportive kids through it all.

  • Ali,

    One of my favorite “Ali” posts ever!. You are — and will forever be — the “Queen of Prose.” The soft tone and gentle mood of this post has made me think this morning that there may be hope for the world after all………if we would just polish our toenails and love one another! ** 🙂 **

  • You are so right to keep things simple and obvious to your kids. Mine are beyond the innocent age so I cannot rely on their willingness to believe such a story if I would get caught with painted toenails. Kids have the right to know the truth so how right are we parents to think we know better and shield them off. I’m not doing any better so it’s an open question. Grace to you and your family.

    • I am lucky to b going through this while they’re younger — I’ve heard horror stories about teenagers! — but I wouldn’t say I told my son a “story.” Just a simple truth. I *did* paint my nails because I wanted purple on there. I just didn’t tell him *why* … 🙂

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