Thursday, September 30, 2021

The thing about the red nail polish

Max came home from a morning out with Dave the other day. They'd gone to get pedicures; let's just say their toes needed TLC. Max had his nails done, too. Red, his favorite color. 

"Wow, wow, wow, Max!" I said.  

Max beamed. 

I wasn't even aware that boys were into wearing nail polish these days until Ben wanted some a year or so ago and Sabrina informed me that it was a thing. I do not have nail polish in my genes; my mom rarely polished her nails growing up. The first time (and I think maybe the only one) she ever got a manicure was for my wedding, when I insisted. Me, I love a good pedi, but I do way too many chores and way too much typing to justify a manicure since my nails inevitably chip within a couple of days.  

Max held out both hands for me to admire his nails. 

When Max was little, I was acutely aware of people staring at him. When we were out, I'd watch people watching him and it would eat me up alive. Because I thought it was rude, because I yearned for others to accept him for who he was and because I was still coming to terms with having a child who was seemingly so different from my friends' children. 

As Max got older, I more or less quit caring about what people thought. I also stopped seeing him as "different" and accepted him for who he was. Max didn't care: He wasn't aware of the looks and besides, he didn't think anything was wrong with himself. I felt exactly the same. If people could not see the whole of who he was—a bright-eyed, super-sunny, charming, good-humored, overall adorable boy with his own way of walking and talking—well, that was their problem, and their loss.

I still find it's rude when people gawk, but it no longer pains me. The red nails made me think of all this. I would have worried, when Max was younger, that the nails would make him stand out more. Years ago when he was in his everything-purple phase, I spotted purple Crocs at Target and decided not to get them because I so badly wanted him to fit in. It still haunts me, to this day. 

The other morning, though, all I could see was a young man standing in front of me with the biggest smile on his face and gloriously red nails.

"They look amazing," I told him. And I meant it.


  1. Wow, I just went back and reread the Crocs blog post. Reading it, and the comments, makes me realise how much has changed in the past 10 years as far as worrying about 'standing out' and trying to blend in. I'm glad for everyone that things are moving in a more accepting direction! I made the mistake the other day of asking my daughter some style questions about my son's clothing - and got a lecture from a 13year old about how he did not need to follow what everyone else was wearing and it was cool to dress your own way :) Point taken!! I'm glad Max got some fun nails!

  2. That picture of Dave and Max is SOOOO Awesome!

  3. I love this post and the red nails look fabulous on Max! Thank you for sharing this so openly. I definitely can relate to wanting so badly not to have those moments where you feel others are staring and judging. But it’s great that you point out it’s other people’s loss if they don’t see the entirety of our children’s wonderfulness.

  4. Love the look. Have you seen any coverage from Drag Syndrome, they are a drag performing group this is made up of people with Down Syndrome.
    In this video, they talk about how people think disabled people are not complex, are only sweet and happy. Drag Syndrome owns their talents and does everything with the confidence of the stars they are.
    I know you've reflected on that with Max, that people think he's not multi-faceted when we all know that is def not the case. Excited to see Max continue to flourish. <3


Thanks for sharing!

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