Would you call this a milestone, a rite of passage or just a significant moment? I don’t know. But, it meant something to me and made me feel so special. First, let me set up the scene. Yesterday evening, when I arrived home from work, the kids were still sleeping from a late nap. I took off my coat and shoes, dropped my work bag on the dinette table and put away the quick groceries I’d picked up at Kroger on the way home.
Jonah needed milk and we were almost out of eggs and bread, too. I wish baby formula wasn’t so ridiculously expensive. At an average twenty-five dollars a pop, we were itching for Jonah to turn 1 year old so he could switch to regular milk. But, I’m not the biggest fan of cow’s milk and neither was Jordis. When she first switched over, she vomited constantly. I put her back on formula for a while and then eased her into 1- and 2% milk. Now, she drinks only 2%. Jonah had a similar reaction, only he’s more dramatic. He started throwing his bottle down if he didn’t taste his usual formula. My husband, wanting to save money was quick to switch to cow’s milk. Jonah’s system was immediately blocked up and after a week of passing rock hard bloody stool (sorry for the graphic details) that left him howling and me fuming about it, we put him back on formula for a while and then mixed it with 2%. Now, we still dilute his 2% with water. I know he can’t be getting much nutrition from that, but I’m focusing more on the food groups in his diet to nourish him. For now, I guess milk is just a thirst quencher. I personally am trying to transition to soy milk. Sorry, but I just never liked the idea of breastfeeding from a cow! Especially at my age.
Back to Jordis. So I got home, took a shower and sat down at the dinette table to read the mail. Jordis came over out of nowhere and asked me to polish her nails. I had only tried it one time before more than a year ago, but she was too young and I never did it again. But recently, I bought a pink polish with sparkles in it and told her if she’d stop biting her nails, I’d polish them. It was what I could think of as an incentive to get her to stop. She’s experienced a lot of changes in the last year, with the birth of Jonah, our move to Durham and the shock of staying home with Daddy while I go to work. She was missing me, missing her routine and missing the familiarity of our old house. She started hitting Jonah a lot, causing him to cry and frustrating Daddy. It made for a rough day and when I came home, she was only too happy to rush over to me and search for comfort. Of course, the first week or so, I was thoroughly exhausted because I had not been in a 9 to 5 position in about five years or so. I missed the queues that she was suffering until she began peeing in her room – on the floor, under the bed, in the closet. As soon as I realized that she was doing it on purpose – even subconsciously – I reasoned on the cause and tried to give her extra attention. In less than two weeks, she stopped and resumed using the potty as she had been doing since about 18 months.
Since the pee pee incidents, I was watching her more closely and noticed she had been biting her nails around the same time. The more I made mention of it to her, the more she did it. What two-year old bites nails unless there’s some psychological issue? Too deep? Well, she still does it almost out of subconscious habit, but the moment I bought that nail polish, she’s been showing me her nails all the time to see if they are growing. They are. So last evening, I sat down with the nail polish, called her over and started to slowly and deliberating examine her nails one by one and then polish them. It felt so significant. You know how we’re always rushing to get things done and one day blends into another, but for this moment I was consciously aware that I was a mom sitting with my only daughter, polishing her nails for what she understood to be the first time and she was so excited. After that, she wanted her toes done also. When we were satisfied with the color and the number of sparkles you could see on each nail, I told her to be very careful not to touch anything or bump anything until they were dry. We spent a few minutes just blowing them until she said her hands were cold! From that point, she was walking haphazardly on her heals with her hands turned up in front of her, to show her daddy. Then, amazingly, she sat down in her chair and just put her hands on her lap very delicately and watch TV. When her dad asked her to get something for him, she said: “I can’t, Daddy. I have my nail polish on.” She had turned into a real girl, not the very rough and tumble, sofa, bunk bed and coffee table climbing renegade she was the days before. No running, no shouting, no throwing balls; no hitting Jonah; no loud banging on toys or running toy trucks across the walls or knocking on the bedroom door or saying ‘ding dong’ like the doorbell; no ‘Mommy, I want something.’ Nothing. She did not want to move, only to sit and look at them. I just watched her, completely stunned and tickled by the morph of personality. And, in an epiphany, I was thinking I’d like to polish her nails every week from now on.