Friends with children tell me that we are not alone in this situation, that they too had concerned neighbours that thought they were mass murders. One informed me that she had to speak to her neighbours in advance of any nail cutting sessions just so they would know she was not killing anyone! I personally am thinking about taking an advert out in the local newspaper (although maybe the national paper might be a better idea, as I am sure my daughter's screams can be heard across the country), to let people know that we are not torturing anyone, we are just trying to cut our daughter’s fingernails.
Her nails seem to bother her a lot. She can frequently be seen picking at them, trying to pull or bite off lose nails. She can spend quite a while trying to fix her own nails as she is fiercely independent and rarely lets either of us cut them.
Any time we mention aloud cutting our daughter’s nails, it is like a gun going off at the start of an Olympic race, the chase is on. It is a great game! She howls with laughter while hiding in her tepee or under her mini trampoline and unless you are Usain Bolt or an elf, this is a fruitless exercise. If by any chance you do manage to catch her, any attempt to hold her hand and cut her nails is met with blood curdling screams, a waterfall and biting. This is quite distressing, and the neighbours have the police on speed dial, so it is a no-win situation, especially as you then run the risk cutting her finger off!
So, one of the only ways we can cut them is when she is absorbed by the television, but the most she will tolerate is four fingernails being cut. Sometimes we can only manage cut one a day! However, this only happens when there is one nail that has beaten her, but regardless of which nail is broken, she will only give you (well my partner, usually, as I am a wimp) her left index finger, even if it doesn’t need cutting, go figure! Then a lot of persuasion is needed to give another up for cutting and we need to choose wisely, we need to make it count, as we don’t know when we will get another chance, therefore it must be the most lethal one. Trying to negotiate with a toddler on why you need to cut a fingernail, is excruciating and it’s almost impossible. The request to cut the fingernail that is bothering her is met with the word “no,” although more recently this has started to develop, alongside the development of her vocabulary, into the words, “I finished,” or “I done it.” It is also torturous as by the time you cut the last nail, it is time to start all over again, as the first one you cut has grown too long.
If she falls asleep unexpectedly, it is difficult to wake her, so, during this time all her nails can be cut, but this is exceedingly rare. We get giddy with glee as we witness this miracle. This is how exciting our lives have become! We know for a few days at least, that we will not have child that looks like she has been attacked by Edward Scissor Hands. She usually manages to cut her face with her talons just before we are due to go an appointment or event, she has impeccable timing! We are sure Childline must have been called by now...
The only other option is the element of surprise, but you must be quick. With the element of surprise, you can yank the nail off, but this had to be done as carefully as possible, in order to not risk damaging her skin.
However you cut her nails, it has to be quick as she is very impatient. If you snooze you lose! Our only hope is that in time, as she grows, it gets easier, so that we don’t need to pay danger money to Usain or the Hulk to come and cut her nails!