Stay-At-Home Dad: Boys’ nail coloring doesn’t bring finger-pointing
By Howard A. Ludwig May 10, 2012 12:54PM
The Ludwig family display their purple manicures at a Chicago White Sox outing. | Howard Ludwig~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 14, 2012 8:08AM
My 4-year-old son tends to make his first impression noteworthy. Peter generally introduces himself by showing off his latest cut, bruise or blister.
Perhaps Pete is looking for sympathy. Maybe he’s showcasing his bravado. Either way, I’m left to wonder if Peter’s new friend is wondering if the little boy covered in sores is crying for help.
Pete’s latest “owie” came from crashing his Big Wheel into a park bench. The collision left him with a scuffed fingernail and a bloody cuticle. He displayed his bandaged pinky finger at school and at the park the way a young woman shows off an engagement ring.
The cut quickly healed. But a black scuff mark from the painted park bench remained. Upon seeing his blackened fingernail, Pete would go into hysterics. He claimed he couldn’t even bend his finger, though he was fine when a Band-Aid masked the scuff.
I soon grew tired of replacing the bandage and enabling this psychosomatic injury. I decided to hide the scuff mark by painting Pete’s fingernails. This way, he’d forget which finger was injured.
I asked The Wife for some nail polish, but the only colors she has are pink and red. I was willing to paint my son’s nails, but I was going for something more punk rock and less glam.
A neighbor offered her purple nail polish. We painted all of Pete’s nails. Bubba wanted in on it too. The Wife even painted her nails as a sign of solidarity.
The boys seemed happy with their purple fingers. They quickly branded themselves as having “Joker fingernails” — a reference to Batman’s archenemy.
My strategy worked. Pete immediately forgot the injury to his pinky finger.
But then it came time to take my boys out in public. I wondered what sort of reaction I’d get when my family with purple fingernails sat down in church on Sunday morning. Later that day, we had tickets to a White Sox game.
To my surprise, I didn’t get one critical comment. Most folks just smiled and said, “Nice nails.”
One parent said, “All of our boys have had their fingernails painted.”
The Wife removed Bubba’s fingernail polish before school on Monday. Painted fingernails are against the rules at his kindergarten. We left Peter’s polish on. Several days later, he asked to have it removed. He didn’t come out and say it, but I got the impression that other kids were commenting on his nails.
In fact, I even heard one boy at Peter’s Tee-ball game point to his nails and say, “He’s not a lady!” I promptly explained that my son was indeed a male. I went on to tell him that Pete was simply wearing nail polish for fun.
I fully expected to catch some hell for painting my sons’ nails. I just thought it would come from adults, not kids.
The Wife removed Pete’s nail polish and noticed he was in need of a trim. On the same nail that was once scuffed, she trimmed too deep. It began to bleed.
Peter was promptly treated with a Spider-Man Band-Aid, and we were right back where we started. The purple nail polish experiment had come full circle.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at email@example.com.