The Avengers Get Their Nails Done

Before my second baby was born
I used to worry (a lot) about
having a boy
thinking, “what would I DO with a boy?”
as if he would turn out to be a different
species than me
rather than another gender
and that we would lack a
common language

Now he is almost six
and I understand that
what I was afraid of
was that he would be
a stereotype
of a boy
or that he would
be a clone
of boys I had known
who had scared me
or disgusted me
because of their
which I wrongly
to testosterone
and the Y chromosome

My son loves to kiss me
and snuggle and
make art
together and
battle bad guys (not with me, because that’s not my thing)
and build Legos (sometimes with superheroes and bad guys
but sometimes not)
and watch the Great British Baking Show
and do martial arts
and play with his multitude of stuffed animals,
all of whom he has given names
and identities
(some straight, some gay, some trans)
and family relationships
(usually interspecies)

He likes to wear pink and purple (and sports shorts and Adidas)
I told him that I’m glad he knows
pink and purple are colors
for everyone
and not just for girls
He said unfortunately not everyone
at his school knows that
and not everyone at his school thinks boys
can wear nail polish
but he knows
how much fun it is
to get your nails done
and how cool it looks

I used to worry
that people would think
I was a boy
because my hair is short
because I mostly wear
t-shirts and jeans
In high school when I wore Doc Martens
I was told “those are men’s shoes.”
(Now I sometimes shop in the men’s department for my size 11 feet
and I receive many compliments on my brown leather wingtips)
In college when I asked the boys down the hall
to use the clipper to shave the back of my hair
I was told “that’s a lesbian haircut.”
and because I wore plaid flannel,
“you dress like a lesbian,”
(but seriously, it was the 90s)
A little girl once asked me, “are you a boy?”
I said no but she still said, “I think you’re a boy.”
When I wake up and stumble into the bathroom
in the middle of the night or
first thing in the morning
so many times I’ve looked in the mirror
and wondered if I looked that day like
Richard Simmons or Andy Gibb or Michael Moore
it’s always a weird male celebrity I see
I used to think that if I didn’t wear earrings
when I left the house
people would think I was a man
even though plenty of men
wear earrings when they leave the house
like my daughter’s 5th grade teacher
who was a middle-aged married father of two
who wore basketball shorts to teach and sported
a gold hoop in each ear

My son notices when I have new earrings
and is the first to compliment me
when I get my hair done
He often does not care if his clothes
are clashing colors
but sometimes he wants me to brush his hair
and help him choose the perfect outfit
for the occasion

My son recites the names of all the Avengers
(and their friends such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four)
and their unique capabilities
and asks me what powers I would like
and then endows me with them
and says,
“I love you with all my heart and all my dreams.”
and falls asleep with his forehead touching mine
and his arm around my neck

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