It's Sunday morning. Mommy has just gotten out of the shower and is preparing to blow dry her hair and put some makeup on for church, which is pretty much the only time that Mommy puts makeup on anymore. She realizes this is sad, but she has accepted it and has become comfortable with her freckly, wrinkly, blotchy face on display for the whole world to see. On Sunday mornings, while Mommy gets ready, Bean will sit on the toilet so that he can get pretty as well while Mommy combs his hair, puts a little mousse in his hair and then lets him play with her brushes while she puts her makeup on.
Bean: (Hearing the hair dryer start, he runs upstairs) "Mommy, I want to get pretty too."
Mommy: "OK, sit there on the potty. Here is your comb."
Mommy dries her hair. When she is finished, she opens her makeup drawer to put on some makeup. Bean hops down from the toilet and goes over to Mommy's makeup drawer.
Bean: (Reaching for a makeup brush and the eyelash curler) "Mommy, I'm getting pretty. Mommy, do you think construction workers get pretty?"
Mommy: (Concentrating on her face in the mirror and not really paying attention to what Bean is doing) "Hmm? Probably not honey. Unless they are girl construction workers."
Bean: "How come Mommy."
Mommy: (Still not really paying attention and not watching Bean) "I don't know honey. They work outside most of the day and get all sweaty. They probably don't bother getting pretty."
Mommy continues to touch herself up and then she realizes it is quiet. The dangerous sound of silence startles Mommy. She looks down.
Bean: "Look Mommy, now I'm pretty"
Mommy: (She looks at the sparkly lip gloss all over Bean's face and is amazed that he could be standing right under her nose and she didn't even notice what he was doing. She quickly questions her mothering abilities for the fifth time already this morning and decides that it is only lip gloss and she shouldn't read too much into it.) "Hmmm. Well, yes, you are very pretty with that on."
Mommy doesn't want to act weird and freaked out by her little boy putting on makeup. He is only three. She knows that it doesn't mean anything and that he is just doing it because he sees Mommy doing it. Still, she's pretty sure she shouldn't encourage putting on makeup at three years old, boy or girl.
Mommy: "Boys don't usually wear makeup pumpkin."
Bean: "How come boys can't be pretty. How come boys don't wear makeup?"
Mommy: (Trying to find a way to explain social norms/expectations to her three year old. She is at a loss for words.) "I don't know honey. They just don't. Boys don't wear makeup."
Bean: "But Mommy, I want to be pretty like you."
Mommy: "Don't you want to be handsome like Daddy?"
Bean: "I'm already handsome. Mommom tells me all the time. Now I want to be pretty like you."
Mommy: "Well, that's very nice. But Mommy doesn't wear makeup very often. You can just be pretty like me when I don't have makeup on."
Bean: "No, you look prettier with it on."
He's right. Mommy does look much better with makeup on.