You say, russet? I say, leave the kid alone.

What is wrong with people?

My son loves painting. The day he saw me paint my toenails (he was in the bath, Spouse was watching him carefully, I was bored, the polish was nontoxic-ish) he fell in love with a new artform. He paints his own toenails about once a week now. He paints his father’s toenails. He tries to paint the cats’ toenails. He loves using a different polish for each toenail, then covers most with “russ-sit,” his favorite.

He paints a lot of toe with toenail. We pretend we don’t care. At first we quickly wiped off the excess, horrified at all the chemicals seeping into his otherwise Dr. Bronner’ed body. Then we stopped caring. ‘Cuz wiping tiny skin next to itty bitty toenails leads to smudges, and the boy hates having his art mucked up. Plus, since we’re trying to be all green and organic and nontoxic, we figure he has a few healthy liver cells to spare. It’s like we’ve been all hyper-organic just to save up purity credits so he can formaldehyde himself once a week. Sigg bottles all the time, with nailpolish on a third of his body. Like drinking organic Coke.

So yesterday we’re walking the ‘hood and a neighbor points at his toenails. “What are you doing with this girlie stuff?”

Um, he’s two and a half. He doesn’t know there are things society reserves for girls and for boys. He doesn’t know because we don’t feel the need to tell him. He doesn’t know that small-minded people will close off half of his joys in life soon enough. He doesn’t know why the shoe lady resisted, for a moment, bringing him the pink butterfly boots he asked for, or why when he asks for purple clothes, there aren’t any in his section. (Yes, most of his jammies are pink and purple…HOLD THE PHONE. What East Coast freaks are in charge of Word’s spellchecker? Because since when is jimmies a better guess than jammies? There’s no such word as jimmies. They’re sprinkles. It’s a shopping cart, not a carriage. It’s a freaking purse, not a pocketbook. At least give me the West Coast version of Word, not the Boston edition. If I type milkshake is it going to correct to frappe? Or better yet, cabinet? Geez. Come on. They look like sprinkles. They act like sprinkles. Why in the hell would they be jimmies? And why, you stupid little paperclip freak, would I have my kid wear jimmies? Jammies. Now I have to go teach autocorrect a lesson or two in California vernacular. Damned thing probably says PEAbuddy instead of Pea-Body.)

(Wait, do they mean jimmies as a verb or a noun? I guess jimmy as a verb occurs more than jammies…no it doesn’t. Nighttime is every day, and jimmying things open is rather rare. If not, get yourself in good with a locksmith or a carpenter. Because life’s too short to jimmy things open all the time. Or to have to recorrect jimmies to jammies, when you typed what you wanted in the first place. Meddling coder geeks.)

Anyway, why do strangers feel the need to put their ubermasculine malarkey on my kid? So he polishes his toenails. So? So he likes butterflies and ladybugs. So? He likes pink. A lot. Used to be, parents were told to dress their boys in pink because red was too strong a color for girls, who were conventionally dressed in blue. (Note that it all changed to blue/boy, pink/girl when the Baby Boomers showed up. Dagnabit, could more of the world revolve around that generation?! When will they go away and let someone else have a chance at determining the nation’s priorities?)

My parents gave me a dump truck when I was in the hospital at age 2, and the nurses thought we were from some cult. I liked freaking trucks, y’all. And I didn’t turn out anything except open minded. All toddlers like trucks and trains and bugs and dolls, so why do we have to be wiping half of that off the map-o’-funness for them based on their plumbing? Spin mama’s son erupted from the bathroom five years ago and pronounced, with his hair wrapped in a towel and nothing else on, that he was a beautiful princess. “Yes, you are!” we all fawned, and went back to our conversation.

I love that Spouse goes to the playground with his son, both of them in sandals and toenail polish. Spouse doesn’t think twice about saying “yes, please” to our little painter. And when friends give him hell, he just looks at them without flinching and says, “My son did them for me.”

Gives me a tangible reminder of why Spouse is the best spouse for me and the best dad for Peanut.

So all y’all who have a problem with the two men in my life painting their toenails, you can just shove off. ‘Cuz I like them more than I like you, anyway.

It’s a yucky, icky world out there

I don’t like the world, right at this particular minute. Everything that’s gross and violent and scary is getting worse, and everything that’s supposed to be safe isn’t. Aside from the whole “poisoning ourselves with every single thing in our over-produced and over-consuming country,” the lead stories today include a decapitation on a bus, a video-taped torture death, and a preacher killing his wife and freezing her body. (Sorry, no links. I can’t bear it–I didn’t read ant of those stories. The headlines were enough.) I was going to let all of that go, but, a blogger I found tag surfing at wordpress, whose kids have developmental differences, went to the library and burst into tears when storytime made her feel that she can’t even do normal things with her kids. Cried in the library.

Dude, that’s not okay. Some days, this is not a nice place to exist. Neither is the third world, I know. But I don’t live there and don’t have the energy to empathize that far today. I really don’t. I know that my absolute darkest moments are diamond-laden sunlight compared to the lives of 99% of the people in this world. I’m sorry if my kvetching dishonors those living in war-torn, impoverished countries. But seriously, a guy can’t sleep on a bus without being stabbed and decapitated? wtf?

People have been asking me, while Spouse is temporarily working in a galaxy far, far away, how I’m faring as a single parent. And without taking more than a nanosecond to wallow in missing him, I know that having a spouse be away is nothing at all like being a single parent. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to raise kids by myself with the added sorrow/fear/anger/joy of a relationship that ended, regardless of how amicably. (‘Cuz there are a lot of those around, right? Amicable divorces? Sure.) I can’t imagine how hard it would be to lose not only a co-parent, but a person with whom you once felt friendly/safe/loved. (I don’t want to be presumptuous about other people marrying someone who makes them feel warm and fuzzy, for one minute of work in domestic abuse organizations makes you rethink what marriage means. Can’t imagine that, either.) While we’re at it, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to raise children while working two or three jobs (thanks, ‘country that has nice ideas about democracy but totally sucks in its priorities,’ for completely abandoning the working poor, for letting the minimum wage drop to a relative fifty-year low, for being an international embarrassment on family leave, for letting our public schools undereducate our kids while a big chunk of the country teaches belief instead of science, and for proposing that a minority view trump women’s health). I can’t imagine how hard it would be to work three jobs and raise children by myself, with child care I could barely afford. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to do any of that with a child who doesn’t fit a typical developmental profile.

So, no. It’s not hard without Spouse here. It’s a little quieter and a little cleaner. And our phone bill is a lot higher. And I stay up too late blogging. But it’s nothing compared to what most people do everyday.

It’s still a yucky, yucky world. We’ve gotten a damned good deal so far, seeing as how I didn’t marry a preacher who killed and froze me, I didn’t sleep on the bus for part of the ride, and I didn’t die while being tortured. And I didn’t sink into lonely despair because a librarian snapped at my kids’ differences.

So, I guess…happy, happy day?