Earning My Stripes

Yesterday, my wife went to the gym for some much needed (and deserved) time to herself. Before she left, she prepared some food for our son’s breakfast so all I really had to do was feed him and clean him up afterwards.* Once he was finished, I took him out of his high chair and put him down with his toys. I knew there were some things that needed to be done that morning – laundry, cleaning, etc. -and I was able to do some of it with my son (for instance, Eitan is great at sitting on my lap while I separate laundry).

Feeling rather proud of myself for having been able to accomplish a number of things in my wife’s absence, I decided to try my hand at one very specific child-related task. This task is critically important for helping a young child remain healthy, for sanitary and safety reasons, and for keeping the child’s parents safe, as well. This task can also be quite difficult, as it requires preparation, patience, dexterity and precision. And so it was, that on this particular morning, I decided to take on the challenge of…

Cutting my son’s nails.

I had everything set up perfectly. Even though I had never actually cut his nails before, I’ve watched my wife do it a few times. I knew how to position Eitan on my lap. I knew how to hold the nail clippers. I had a place to dispose of the clippings. I even knew which television channel had the most hypnotizing cartoons so Eitan wouldn’t move as much. And when I cut the first nail, I held the clippers too close (of course) and sheared off a flap of skin along with the nail.

Now, before you recoil in horror, let me say very clearly: Eitan was fine. He cried for maybe three seconds and then focused back on the television show. In fact, because he finished crying so quickly and because it took a second or two for the wound to start bleeding, I had a brief moment of hope that I had actually done it right. But he was totally fine.

I was mostly fine too. I did my best to ignore the immediate thoughts of self-doubt (read: “You’re a terrible father!”) and took action. I did not panic, but I did get up very quickly to get a paper towel to stop the bleeding.** In fact, the hardest part of this whole process, believe it or not, was keeping the paper towel on Eitan’s thumb while also keeping it out of his mouth. I put Neosporin on a small Band-Aid and managed to get it onto his tiny little thumb (and then set to work keeping that out of his mouth). And apart from the slight discoloration on the finger, you can hardly tell anything happened.

Look, I know this happens to every parent at one point or another.*** The important thing for me was that I gave it a shot. In retrospect perhaps I should have at least waited until my wife got home to try my hand at cutting Eitan’s nails, especially since I’d never done it before. For now, I suppose I’ll stick to the things I know how to do already, because I’m sure there will be plenty of other opportunities to traumatize my child without my rushing to do them all now.


*Lest you get the wrong idea, I prepared some of the food too.

**Speaking of which, is it normal for babies’ blood to take a long time to clot up? He was like the Energizer Bunny of blood flow. It just kept going!

***This happens to every parent at one point or another, right?

7 responses to “Earning My Stripes

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