Believe it or not, cutting the baby’s finger and toenails is a very risky business.
Before Maddie was born, I remember worrying about a list of very silly things. I was worried about my reaction to poop, spit up and other various bodily fluids. In retrospect, these fears were largely unfounded. Without going into detail, getting hit with one fluid or another or even a nice combo just isn’t a big deal.
However, fingernails and toenails are a big deal. It’s one of those things that never even crossed my mind until I was faced with the challenge of it all. These things grow like wildfire and can be a hazard to both you and your baby. One day we have a neatly trimmed set of nails and a couple days later they are longer and sharper than a set of Samurai swords.
Maddie has gashed herself more times than I care to recall with both her fingernails and toenails. Nasty slashes show up on her face, legs and stomach like she went toe-to-toe with Freddie Cruger. If you are not a parent, you are now saying to yourself, “Why don’t you just cut them?”
Let me help with that one. First of all, let’s do a quick metric lesson. One millimeter is about the width of a dime. A baby’s sharpened talon is often less than two millimeters long. Houston, we have a problem!
I’ve been cutting those microscopic nails for seven months now and it’s not really much easier now than it was then. Size is one problem, the other problem is that Maddie Scissorhands never stops moving. She’s always zigging and zaggin like a honey badger trying to bite a snake in the head.
Once the baby clippers come out (regular clippers with pink plastic) Maddie starts somersaulting around her bedroom while throwing a series of roundhouse kicks that would make Mr. Miyagi green with envy.
Somehow, through this storm of kicks, swats, pivots and squirms you are supposed to clip these nails that can only be seen under the brightest of lights.
As if that’s not enough, throw in the fact that with each clip, the baby jerks her hand or foot back as if you have severed the entire appendage. This means that with every clip, you have to deal with a surge of adrenaline that leaves you breathless.
So far, I have only clipped her finger once and it was a HORRIBLE feeling that left me riddled with guilt. Instead of cutting nails, give me a big old stinky stack of poopy diapers any day.
One of the enduring gifts Maddie’s grandparents left with her was a new desire to bang on multiple flat surfaces like a bongo drum. Since that time, the baby has banged on cans, counter tops and even her dear old dad. But as you might have guessed from the title of this article, Maddie is now drumming water right out of the tub.
There’s always been a great deal of kicking that automatically came with bath time. However, with the recent addition of repeatedly smacking her flat hands on the surface of the water, bath time is now more like a day at the water park.
The entire smacking of the water is on par with the way a beaver warns other varmints that danger is near. The beaver takes its large flat tail and pounds it into the water before submerging. This tail meets water action sends up a large plume of water very similar to what Maddie is achieving in the bathtub.
So how does one defeat a Varmint? In Caddyshack, the wise and wily Bill Murray spoke about the difficulties of dealing with Varmints, “My enemy is a varmint and a varmint will never quit. They’re like the Vietcong. The varmint kong! You gotta fall back on superior firepower and superior intelligence.”
Since neither of those attributes are at my disposal, I obviously have a slew of long wet days ahead of me. Once Maddie watches that water rain down around her and the person tasked with bathing her, the fun for her is just beginning. Even though she’s inadvertently firing sharp blasts of water into her own eyes and nose, Maddie continues to smack at the water again and again (Honey Badger don’t care!)
At this point, I’m only making things worse. Every time the baby busts the water and douses us, we both laugh with unfettered delight. This is no doubt encouraging the problem rather than solving it. It may get old at some point, but for now, I’m more than content to participate in Maddie’s Water Games.
Since Maddie’s birth, bath time has always been one of her favorite activities. But as we discussed earlier this week, Maddie’s interpretation and reaction to outside stimuli has undergone some sort of dramatic transformation.
Unfortunately, this shift in behavior has found its way into the bathtub. We were forced into an early bath this afternoon when Maddie pulled a fast one after I removed her diaper. The diaper came off and she started urinating into the air. She really must have had to go, because the stream was shooting straight out.
I blocked the pee-stream in mid-air like some sort of super hero using his hand to deflect a punishing laser. (Luckily I had a cloth diaper lodged in my hand for this type of attack) Maddie obviously thought this was great sport, as she smiled with pure delight. She was in a really great mood now.
Our trip to the bathtub was starting with such promise – but as soon as the baby hit the water, she panicked.
This is a radical departure from her previous love of the tub. Maddie seemed very concerned that her head might slip under the water – even though that’s never happened before. She did not scream or cry – but she was fiercely communicating to me that I needed to keep a firm hand hold on the back of her neck.
This complicated our usual bathing process – but eventually Maddie started to relax and enjoy herself, although not as much as usual. Normally she splashes around a little bit, but today she was keeping a firm grip on my arms to make sure I was ready for any needed rescue operations. Even when I was washing the baby’s feet, her smiles were very cautious, as if she expected me to run out of the room at any moment and order a pizza.
It was if she had never been exposed to water before. I made sure that we took our time and kept the water nice and warm. It wasn’t until I started washing her hair that Maddie realized she was in good hands. We enjoyed the rest of our bath and I could tell that Maddie felt much better. This is because she carpet bombed my arm with poop after I finished drying her off.
When you really think about it, it’s obvious that I’m the one who should be terrified when it’s time for the baby to take a bath!
I have to admit that we have been remiss in cutting the baby’s fingernails. As a result, her tiny fingers have transformed into pterodactyl talons of death. One swipe of those razor sharp claws and you find yourself picking pieces of your small intestine up off the floor.
Needless to say, it was time for a trim! I had been waiting for Maddie to be in an exceptionally good mood before undertaking such a risky venture – and today was the day.
Our first attempt at nail cutting about a week ago ended in complete failure. Tending to the nails of your child with a spouse watching is not the way to go. This is a solo venture where coaching can have devastating results.
Just like Will Ferrell in the movie Stepbrothers, I decided to use Ninja breathing techniques and nail clipper camouflage to lull the baby into a false sense of security. The time to strike would be after the first feeding when my little girl was feeling the intoxicating effects of mother’s milk. I put a couch cushion on my lap and then gently laid Maddie down on top. Sure enough, the little girl was starting to fade.
As her eyes got heavy, I employed the old “I want to hold your hand” approach and luckily, she fell for it! Clippers appeared in a flash and suddenly her middle talon fell harmlessly to the couch. Seize the initiative – we knocked the pinkie and the ring finger nail next when Maddie realized that I was up to no good.
I had already dropped the clippers as she eyed me suspiciously. Nothing to see here little one – just the innocent eyes of your PaPa shining with love! Phewww – that was a close one!
Maddie slipped back into dreamland as I eyed the ultimate prize of the set – the thumbnail of death, actually judged to be sharper than concertina wire! I went in for a better grip, but the nail refused to give. It was a life and death struggle – man versus claw – it slashed at me, tearing my clothes, but I refused to yield. Suddenly with a snip, it was over. Sayonara you sick twisted nail!
The fingernails on the other hand went just like the first one, but I will leave that up to your imagination!