In an earlier post, I described how my 5-year-old son had an interest in nail polish. He's into color right now. His artwork is full of rainbows, he likes using different colored markers to write the letters of his name, he pushes down hard with his crayons so the colors are intense and vibrant.
He wanted to wear some color. So after asking me - not begging me - off and on for several months if he could wear nail polish I finally had a moment to put it on him. He loved it. I actually painted his nails red first, then when that dried did a dark blue-grey, then when that dried applied a coat of gold. His younger brother joined in on the fun, too.
As you might recall from my earlier post, my 5-year-old wore his nail polish to school and was disappointed when his friends laughed. My husband thinks we're setting him up to be teased if we allow him to wear it to school. I see it as an opportunity.
I'd like to teach my middle son how to stand up for his preferences in this situation. I'd like to do some role play so he can learn how to respond when someone laughs at his colorful nails. My 5-year-old has made colorful beaded necklaces and bracelets for himself and worn them to school without any laughter from his friends, so I think it should be easy to coach him on how to teach his friends that nail polish is just another decoration. It's no different from dyed hair. A boy in his class wears an earring.
And yes, these kids are young and just starting to establish their identities and opinions. That's why I believe this is the perfect time, the time we cannot afford to miss, to teach them that respect for others means accepting someone who looks different, talks different, dresses different. I feel they are at a malleable age and if we can broaden their minds now, they will carry that with them as they move to first, second, third...and maybe instead of spreading old-fashioned ideas of what boys do and what girls do, we can plant the seeds for a school culture that's more accepting of variety and self-expression.
And yes, I think my 5-year-old is a kid who can handle this job.