Trimming wee talons (and other tales of time)

Posted on Posted in Parenting

Cutting our kid’s nails is kind of like wrestling a small iguana, except iguanas don’t drool.

talon and xmas mooseBack when I had a 9-5 job and no kid, I always knew what day of the week it was. I was also way better at watering the plants regularly – once a week like clockwork. And I used to remember whether it had been one or two weeks since I’d washed the sheets (or even three).

Our plants are barely hanging on. The sheets are rarely clean. I can’t tell you the date to save my life. But our baby has given me a new way to mark the passing of time: by the rapid growth of his sharp little fingernails.   Instead of a calendar, I now measure time in nail clippings. The passing weeks are quantified by the small snippings of dead keratin that fly into the cracks of the couch, never to be seen again – just like all the many moments that passed while my child’s nails grew long.

When we finally agreed on his name, I had no idea how apropos ‘Talon’ would be. His little claws sometimes seem like an animate part of him. They dig reminders into my breast when too much time has passed between trimmings. I appreciate the claw marks. They are a physical indication of the quickly fading months of his infancy, vivid hash marks that tally the blur of diapers, smiles, coos, and tears (mine as well as his).

talon in socks and hatThe act of nail clipping is a rite of passage in itself. I cried in fear the first time, holding him tight and averting my eyes while Rob braved the miniscule nails, already so long at birth. And I cried in commiseration the second time, when Rob accidentally nicked his thumb, unleashing Talon’s first howls of pain. After a couple of months, I finally felt confident enough to clip his nails on my own.

But, like all things with parenting, as soon as I said to myself, “I’ve got this thing down,” the kid proved me wrong. Now Talon bucks and protests when I try to trim his wee talons. It’s kind of like wrestling a small iguana, except iguanas don’t drool. If I get two nails at a pop if I call it a victory. It’s a test on my perfectionist tendencies, a challenge to my need for symmetry.

To be honest, I don’t mind Talon’s jagged, imperfect edges. They ground me in the present, especially when the fingers behind those nails reach for my hand and hold on to my heart.

P.S. Check out the new “look” on our website, and let me know what you think!

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