“Sam is my middle child & he’s a terror,” Gouveia wrote. “A ‘boy’s boy‘ as so many (not me) would say. He’s rough and tumble, he’s loud, he’s always dirty, loves trucks, plays sports and knee drops me from the couch. But he also loves a lot of “girl” things.
Sam has an affinity for purses and nail polish, which are traditionally considered feminine.
But, as Gouveia notes, Sam’s classmates weren’t as appreciative of this beauty. Instead, they ridiculed him for being a boy with nail polish. “They called him names and told him to take it off. This lasted the entire day,” Gouveia said.
“When my wife picked him up from school he collapsed into her arms and cried uncontrollably. He was devastated at how other kids turned on him, even his friends. He asked them to stop but that just made it worse. Only [one] kid stood up for him,” he added. “He called me at work, his words barely decipherable through the sobs, and I told him nothing those kids say matters. That his nails are BADASS! And the only thing that matters is whether he likes his nails. And then my heart broke…”
“My son is far from perfect but he’s got a huge heart and empathy for miles. He finds beauty in everything around him and for 5 years he’s never been afraid to be different because different has never meant “bad.” Until now,” Gouveia tweeted.
“I know these kids are only in kindergarten but this toxic masculinity bullshit is LEARNED,” he added. “Learned most of the time from parents. So parents, I hope you’re proud. I hope this is what you wanted. I hope you’re satisfied.”
Gouveia mentions that he talked to Sam and explained that the other kids are simply jealous of his nails. He even told Sam to wear a brighter shade the following day. “And I told him to ask these kids why they’re so upset and see what they say,” he said.
“I bet they don’t know,” he explained. “I bet their parents don’t even know. But what I do know is Sam is a goddamn fireworks show of a human being and I won’t let that be dulled for a second by this restrictive bullshit that’s been choking boys forever.”
“But more importantly I told him it doesn’t matter what anyone else does because what you wear and how you look should make YOU look good. And to hell with everyone else,” Gouveia emphasized.
After careful consideration, Sam decided to leave his nail polish intact because he likes it and it makes him feel good.
“Then Sam’s 10-year-old brother painted HIS nails in solidarity with his sibling, at which point I nearly cried.”
Gouveia concluded that, while intolerant parents and their offspring might’ve scored a minor victory on that particular day, they won’t win the war.
“I know that because the Sams of the world aren’t going to suffer this bullshit anymore. Of that I have no doubt.”
“Be brave and shine bright, my beautiful polished boy,” he added. “Know that mom and dad always have your back and if the rest of the world has a problem with your nails, they can check out my nail polish!“
Gouveia’s thread serves as a reminder that hatred and prejudice aren’t born, they’re bred. Kids take their cues from the adults they look up to for guidance, so let’s lead them down the path to a brighter, more inclusive future where everyone’s free to love whatever and whomever they choose.
A Plus has reached out to Aaron Gouveia for comment.