Last week J. Crew caused some controversy with an Ad they ran portraying a mother painting her son's toenails pink. One of the commenters stated/asked "Why would I paint my son's nails?" I couldn't help myself, but answer them with a story.
This is fiction that was inspired by the above. Thanks to Cathy for her edit and as always her friendship.
Maria looked up from the fresh coat of neon pink polish she’d just brushed onto her toenails. She enjoyed the little touches that made her feel feminine despite all the demands on her time as wife, mother, and everything else expected of a woman of the 21st century.
Shyly her six year old son Josh was peeking around the corner of the door. He was old enough to understand that interrupting her while bathing was not a good thing, but she was dressed now. She was now on the, hmmm, finishing touches.
Her smile let him know it was all right to come in.
The way his face lit up grinning as he bounced in made her want to take him in her arms and laugh her joy to the world. That smile was just one of the wonderful things about being a mother. Sure all too soon she would get a sullen teenager, but she would always have these memories.
“What cha’ doing Mommy?” Josh asked his pug nose winkling from the smell of the nail polish.
“I’m painting my nails.” She wondered where this had come from since he’d seen her paint her nails before. Taking the applicator she carefully began painting her left hand’s nails.
He watched her as she finished with her pinkie finger.
“Your pinkie finger is pink,” he giggled wide eyed. And then more serious he asked, “Why?”
Maria knew without a question what he really wanted to know.
“I paint my nails so I can look pretty for Daddy when we go out tonight.” She told him with another smile.
Her heart glowed at his silly ‘I thinking’ expression as he thought about it. Then he broke out into another wide grin.
“Can I be pretty too?” He asked, wiggling his little fingers at her.
She found herself having to freeze her smile in place surprised at his question. Long practice had shown how he could misinterpret things sometimes. However that didn’t keep her thoughts from racing wild. Was her son gay or one of those kids who had gender problems? And any number of other crazy ideas.
Looking into his eyes, she decided to treat this exactly how it looked. A curious, smart boy saw his mother doing something and wanted to do it too. Just like he tried to help with the laundry by pushing the dirty clothes basket, or the greasy mess he made helping his Father in the garage.
“You can,” she replied, “But you do know that boys don’t paint their nails? They can get teased like your cousin George did after his haircut.” Maria reminded him of everyone’s reaction to the curly blond hair. Sure her sister-in-law had the kid in one of those children’s beauty contests, but that ‘do’ was really over the top. That curly blond mop as cute as it was, still got poor George teased till he was in tears.
Josh’s eyes got big again. He obviously didn’t like the idea of being made fun of, but then he looked at her toes. She could almost see the wheels turning inside.
“Can I just do my toes,” he asked. “Then no one could see.”
“But then no one would know you were being pretty,” she replied.
She watched him think hard about it again and saw as he came up with an answer.
“We would know!” Her son nearly squealed in happiness.
“Are you absolutely certain,” Maria asked very seriously.
Just as solemnly he nodded.
Picking him up and setting him on her dresser she got to work. His little toes were so small, each just needed a drab of polish. Looking up, she could see Josh intently following her every move in the way only a child could.
“There all done.” She touched the tip of nose making him giggle. “Now you have to wait for it to dry. If you smudge it or get polish on something else, they won’t be pretty.”
They both heard the backdoor open and close.
“I’m home,” her husband bellowed.
“Daddy’s home!” Josh jumped down and ran out.
Hoping he wouldn’t get polish on anything, she began finishing getting ready. A nuzzle on her neck sensually informed her, Dave had escaped Josh’s enthusiastic welcoming home.
“Why hello there handsome,” she purred.
“Hello yourself,” he lovingly growled back. “This may seem like a strange question, but why does our son have pink toe nails?”
Twisting around to face him, she told him what happened, and added, “Besides I seem to remember the first time we met, you were wearing not only nail polish, but lipstick and eyeliner too mister.”
Looking hurt, he defended his masculinity. “But it was black and not pink. It was heavy metal concert. I wasn’t trying to look pretty. I was looking cool,” he said, striking a pose convinced of his infallibility.
“You were pretty.” Huskily Maria stared into his eyes.
“I was?” His face fell.
“In a cute Goth kinda of way.” She smiled.
“Oh darn!” He said disappointingly.
“Why do you think I married you?” She teased him.
“Really?” He asked more confidently.
“Really,” Maria replied with finality.
After they kissed, he asked, “Seriously though, what do you want to do about this?”
“You’re going to trust me to handle this?” she asked him.
“You were there, I wasn’t. And yes I do trust you. Why do you think I married you?” He asked.
“Well,” She said, “Unless he makes a habit of wanting me to paint his nails or wants me to do something else for him, I’m inclined to forget about. Kids imitate adults. That’s how they learn. If he does want more, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. As for you, keep doing the father/son things you’ve been doing. How does that sound?”
“Good to me.” He said smiling. Then mischievously, he added, “You know I think we have all our old clubbing wear upstairs in the attic.”
“What are you suggesting?” She asked pretending to be shocked.
“Well, after we get back from dinner, the baby sitter should have Josh already in bed,” his voice trailed off suggestively wagging his eyebrows.
“But I don’t have any black lipstick for you,” she complained. “But I do have this.” Maria held up the tube of hot pink lip gloss to his dismay.
The doorbell rang. Josh ran in breathlessly. “Babysitter is here!”
He ran out as his parents laughed behind him.
“Well, shall we?” Her handsome husband asked holding out his arm for her.
“Let’s.” Maria smiled accepting his offer.
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