Sometimes, I just NAIL this parenting thing.
Mostly because I steal good ideas from my mother. They say plagarism is the sincerest form of flattery, and - with a few small ideas of my own - we're raising Genevieve the way I was raised.
I like to try to overcome challenges with Genevieve creatively, kindly, and most importantly, in a way where I can turn a problem into something fun. (This works best after I've had my coffee, and a good night's sleep. I'm only human.)
One of the challenges I've had is clipping nails. I started doing it while she was sleeping when she was a baby, and once she got older, I became The Fingernail Fairy.
Like the Tooth Fairy, the Fingernail Fairy comes in the dead of the night, clips fingernails (and toenails) and - if all goes well - nobody wakes up, and we all get the gift of a DangerMouse who doesn't have Wolverine claws.
The Fingernail Fairy doesn't get the same excellent PR that the Tooth Fairy gets. There. I've said it.
In any case, now that Genevieve is becoming a Big Girl, I've been able to rebrand some previously problematic things as "Big Girl" activities. (I don't bandy the term about all willy-nilly, just for important stuff.)
I happened to be tidying our bathroom counter, when Genevieve noticed the row of nail polish bottles, all lovely, colorful, and most importantly, sparkly, along the edge of the mirror.
"What's that?" she asked.
"Nail polish," I answered, and then - BAM! - my mother's genius kicked in, "You know, Gramzie used to paint my toenails when I was little. If you let me clip your toenails- and you're cooperative - I'll paint your toenails."
Be cool, be cool, I thought to myself, rushing to grab the tiny toenail clippers. You haven't clipped them yet.
I grabbed my own clippers as well, and modeled how easy and painless it is, and then she cheerfully and cooperatively let me clip hers. And then her fingernails. LIKE IT WAS NOTHING.
[This is a big deal. Genevieve has been fine *pretending* to clip nails, but as soon as it was time to get down to business, based on the crying and shrieking, you'd think I was trying to do surgery without anesthetics on her instead of *just attempting* to clip her nails. Hence the necessity of the aforementioned Fingernail Fairy.]
"Great job! That was very cooperative!" I said, positively brimming with enthusiasm, "Pick your color! Let's go paint your toenails."
She picked and we went to the living room, where I parked her in the glider and turned on an episode of Sesame Street (as a treat, and also to guarantee she would sit still until the nail polish dried).
In typical toddler fashion, the thrill was in the chase, and as soon as I went to paint her toenails she was *immediately* suspicious of the whole process. So, what's a mom to do? I modeled on my own feet.
It's been more than two years since I've had a pedicure- in fact, the last time was my 29th birthday, with my friends Jen and Laura, just before Genevieve was born. I worked quickly, and by the end of the episode, Genevieve still wasn't ready. No big deal. Sometimes it's the getting, sometimes it's the having. Whatever works.
Mom came over, and Genevieve greeted her the usual way ("AAAAAAAAAVIIII!" ["Gramzie" for the uninitiated], and *then* was ready to have her nails painted.
"Paint mine toes, peeease, Mommy?"
So, we listened to some music while I gave her a tiny pedicure.
"Now," I told her, "You need to sit Very Still so that your nail polish can dry. Let's read a couple of books, and you keep your legs straight out on mine."
One pass through The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Happy St. Patrick's Day, Curious George, and her toes were dry.
All evening, she was admiring her pedicure, "Mine toes preeeeeddy, Mommy. You toes preeeeeddy, too. Match!"
I can't help but notice that I was thinking exactly the same thing.