"Child #1," I said. "We need to clip your fingernails."
"Nooooo," she screamed and hid both of her hands out of sight.
Here's the backstory.
We have a troubled history with fingernail maintenance. When the kids were babies I was terrified an accidental slip of the nails scissors might draw blood from their teeny, tiny little fingers. So, to my husband's complete revulsion, I practiced the art of oral nail maintenance on my babies, which is a fancy way of saying I bit their nails. I know, I know, a little disgusting but the combination of sleep deprivation and irrational fears of new motherhood was enough to make me do all kinds of wacky things.
Over the years we've progressed away from oral nail maintenance...slightly. Child #2 now bites his own nails. I consider this progress. Especially since little boy's hands are not known for their cleanliness. My current policy with respect to little boy hands is I refuse to taste, smell or have them rubbed on my face unless they've been thoroughly washed.
|Right now they look like these, but...|
Which leaves Child #1 and her fingernails. Clipping her nails involves a highly choreographed routine. She hides her fingers, makes me talk to them, insists each finger perform a little dance and sheds tears if I cut any of them too short. This turns a five minute chore into one that takes fifteen minutes.
So back to our vacation, our holding hands, our retreat from the beach. Child #1 screamed and instead of arguing with her I took a deep breath and said, "Okay, you can do it yourself."
"No," she said, eyes wide, shaking her head. "I won't do it."
"Then they'll grow even longer and break off. They might even bleed."
"Noooo," she shrieked again.
|Maybe someday they'll look like these?|
"I'm done being your manicurist." I told her and even though it had the sound of an empty threat I realized, at that moment it was true. She's no longer a baby. The stakes are low and she's fully capable of cutting them herself. If they're grimy or she breaks one then maybe that will force her down the path that I've been trying to lead her for ten years.
Yesterday she had piano practice. "Did your piano teacher ask you to cut your nails?" I asked after it was over.
"Nope," she said with a grin. "I cut them last night."
That was it. End of story. I let go and gave her room to grow. In retrospect, I think we both grew a little.