Free To Be

From Slate:  http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/doublex/features/2012/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_about_gender/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_by_a_bunch_of.html

By Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2012

Free to be … who? All the musicians, artists, feminists, and other figures mentioned in this series.

“Why are your toes painted like that?”

The question came from the neighbors’ kid Cam, a fourth grader friendly with my children, as a group of us parents sat in his living room drinking wine one afternoon in June. He was sprawled on the couch, sweaty and red-faced from wrestling with his little brother, and he’d noticed that each of my toes sported a different bright color of nail polish.

“I painted them!” my younger daughter exclaimed.

“It’s true, she did,” I said. “Harper really likes painting nails, so I let her do mine.”

I’ve modeled Harper’s salon skills for the past few summers. I like that she takes the task so seriously, choosing colors from a Ziploc bag of polish we keep on a high shelf in the bathroom and applying them carefully to my big, gross toenails.

“But …” Cam began, pausing to consider what his question really was. He seemed torn between viewing me as an object of pity and a key to unlocking life’s mysteries. “But don’t your friends make fun of you?”

“Oh,” I said, putting on a casual air, even though the conversation seemed unexpectedly important all of a sudden. “No, not really. When you get older, you have a different relationship with your friends than you do when you’re a kid.” Now I paused to consider. “Or maybe when you’re a grown-up, you just choose friends who understand the things you do.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/doublex/features/2012/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_about_gender/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_by_a_bunch_of.html

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