Nail polish

“Hi hon,” I called when I heard the front door opening. Jeremy immediately yelled “hi” back and came bounding over.

“School was good,” he informed me cheerfully. Both hands were clenched tight against his chest so I could only see the backs. This was unusual to say the least.

“Jeremy? What’s with your hands?” I asked as I reached toward him.

“Umm… nothing,” he said, stepping back. Then he sighed and held his hands out. His nails were painted alternating black and glittery red.

“Nice,” I commented mildly and he relaxed.

“There wasn’t much to do this afternoon and one of the teachers had polish in her purse and offered to do people’s nails.”

I figured she probably offered to do some of the girls’ nails and Jeremy volunteered but didn’t bother saying that. She’d obviously painted them without adding any negative commentary. If that can of worms was still closed, I didn’t need to open it.

“Let’s head out to the mall,” I said instead. “We need to pick up something for dinner.”

Jeremy looked at me like I’d suggested going outside for some naked flamenco dancing. “Just give me ten minutes so I can scrape off the nail polish,” he muttered.

“Jeremy, if you don’t like the nail polish then why did you get it done,” I asked. Dead silence.

“I like it,” he admitted. “I just don’t want anyone to see it.”

“Jeremy,” I said firmly, holding his hands. “If you like that nail polish and want it on then rock it and ignore anyone who says otherwise.”

“I really don’t want anyone to see it.” He looked even more embarrassed.

“We can buy nail polish remover while we’re out,” I promised. “And you can wear gloves.”

We were out the door as soon as he found his gloves.

The shopping trip was going fine then we went past the mall restrooms. Jeremy insisted he needed to use the washroom. The kid has kidneys like a camel, this was instantly suspicious.

“Jeremy, you’re not taking the nail polish off in there.” It was more of a hopeful question than a statement.

“Yeah,” he replied, clutching the store bag a little tighter.

“You can’t…” I swallowed ‘It’s not safe’ and said “… It can be done at home” instead.

He turned and headed down the hall with me calling, “I’m going to the store without you. You’ll have to meet me there.”

Weakest threat ever. I don’t think I’ve hovered that intently in front of the men’s room since Jeremy was seven and braving the men’s room alone for the first time. An older man left first then Jeremy followed less than a minute later.

“I told the man it was a bet. He said ‘ah’ then left,” Jeremy informed me. I nodded, noticing he was a lot more cheerful now that the polish was off.

His hands were back in motion, remnants of black and red flashed on each nail. Anyone who looked at his hands would know he’d been wearing nail polish. I did not bother to point this out.

I wish Jeremy felt comfortable wearing nail polish no matter who sees him. And I wish we live in a society where he didn’t have to worry.

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