Fatherhood Adventures

Ever try and cut a toddler’s nails?

I like a challenge, but this can get a little ridiculous. Consequently, it’s something I try to delay as long as possible, but there comes a time when procrastination can be troublesome (hence the current scratch on the side of my face from a recent roughhousing session).

Short of resorting to an over-the-counter sedative, I have tried everything when it comes to trimming Beckett’s fingernails and toenails. Despite some fairly creative attempts at making the task a little easier, it continues to be a nightmare, largely due to the fact he, like all kids his age, abhors being constrained in any fashion.

That’s the root of the difficulties, but I have found my best chance is when he’s absolutely exhausted, has his pacifier and can be entertained by something else.

Fortunately, I can still overpower my son physically and can manage to keep him pinned down long enough to get the job done. However, the concern comes when he tries to wiggle a finger loose. That’s when the situation can get a little messy. Cut too close here or there and there’s blood. Leave too long and there’s a dagger and all you’ve done is wasted your time as well as his.

It’s always been a struggle, but what happened last week clearly takes the cake for the most absurd session ever.

When it comes to his toenails, I have figured out it’s best to do while he is in his highchair and eating. There’s nowhere for him to escape and I can usually keep him distracted long enough with treats to take care of the lower digits.

When it comes to his fingernails, that’s a different story. During this recent session, he was cooperating for the most part but his patience was wearing thin. Without any issues, thanks likely to the fact I gave him a book to read, he let me easily take care of one hand. However, when it came to the other, it was a different story. He was squirming and wiggling around the entire time.

At one point, he had maneuvered himself off the changing table to the floor. While I made sure he landed on his feet, after all it’s a few feet of drop here, I refused to let go of his hand. It was a battle of wills. There we were both standing up with me holding on to his left hand and trying to cut his middle fingernail, which had oddly enough scratched me moments earlier. All the while he was stretching out to get to a toy and slowly but surely maneuvering closer to the eye of his affection.

Eventually, I got him to his bottom and the deed was done and there were no bleeders. Unfortunately, the work did not end there.

I don’t know if it’s like this with all kids, but there’s no reason to cut Beckett’s fingernails if you don’t file them down. All you have done is just create weapons if you don’t take the time to smooth them out. The good news here is he thinks the filing is hilarious, for some reason. I think it might tickle.

All I know for sure is I’m thrilled when this chore is done. In the meantime, I continue to search for better ways to cut his fingernails. While driving the other day, I had an epiphany. I figure strapping him into his car seat and flipping on a video might do the trick for the little bruiser. That’s what I’m trying out next.

Although I marvel and admire my oldest son’s courage, I have to admit it also scares me.

Beckett has no fear when it comes to certain things. He particularly has no concept of heights and subsequently tries to stand on everything, from couches and toys to his mother and me.

The other morning he was standing on a truck while eating a “mum-mum” and fell off abruptly. The result was a bloody lip and I admit it happened on my watch. There were tears, but throughout the cleanup process he interestingly never let go of his snack and continued to eat it while I tackled trying to apply ice to his bloody lip. He had a swollen lip to show for the spill the next couple days, but that didn’t stop his antics.

When he’s not falling off stuff, he has found another way to get his thrills. For a while now, he has been enjoying standing up and falling back on his bottom. He will do this numerous times in a row and loves it each time more than the last. Although I have not seen it in person, and I am not going to encourage it, Pam tells me he now likes to fall straightforward and sometimes catches himself with his hands. Other times he lets his belly catch him. No matter which approach he takes, it’s always followed up with a “wow” or “whoa” or some form.

Although he’s unquestionably a silly brute, which I find charming on a certain level, it cracks me up that the strangest things do scare him. For instance, he has a thing with the sound an elephant makes.

On a few of his favorite videos, elephants are featured and it’s at the point now he realizes when one is about to trumpet. He runs toward Pam or me or out of the room altogether and hides. It’s the oddest thing. As recent as a month ago, it terrified him to the point he would cry inconsolably. He’s over that at this point, but he’s still got something against elephants. It’s a psychological thing because to my knowledge he’s never had any sort of run-in with an elephant on the streets of Berlin or Ocean City.

On one hand, he will try and jump off an entire set of stairs or attempt to scale the front door. A minute later, he is running and hiding because a cartoon elephant danced goofily across the television screen.

It’s bizarre but it sure is entertaining.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.