D wielding her hairbrush
Nail cutting, teeth brushing, hair taming – toddlers have the same grooming issues as the rest of us. While I may roll my eyes at the prospect of flossing, Diana's reaction to grooming is a little bit more ferocious.
She squirms, kicks and jerks her body in every direction. Then she tries to flee every time I attempt to trim her nails. Doesn't sound like a recipe for success, does it?
To be honest, nail cutting has been one of the biggest banes of my life as a parent from the beginning. My husband, when in a taunting mood, likes to ask me if I remember the time I nearly chopped off half of D's finger when I attempted to cut her nails for the first time. Considering the blood bath that ensued, and the fact that D was only weeks old at the time, it's safe to say it's one of those awful images I'll never be able to get out of my head.
I was using baby-proofed nail clippers, which, in my experience, have been utterly useless (and destructive) but which are one of those items new parents get suckered into buying. The baby-approved clippers are so baby-safe that the blade is completely obscured, which means that it's impossible to see what you're actually cutting. I didn't realise how far into the nail I'd gone until D was in floods of tears and gushing rivers of blood. It scarred me for good.
So I decided I would never cut D's nails again (having crazy-long nails can lead to celebrity status in some places, right?) and D's father – also scarred from nail-gate – decided he didn't particularly want to either. Which was fine until D learned to violently scratch us (and herself) and I worried about her gauging bits of skin off in her sleep.
Random side note: In addition to scratching, D has now become a biter. Trained by the best (televised vamps courtesy of True Blood, one of the shows I used to binge watch while breastfeeding), D bites with force and style, leaving elegant marks in random places like my bicep or inner thigh. She also does that TV thing where she gives you a winning grin and completely charms you before plunging her teeth into your skin. It would be kind of awesome if it weren't so excruciatingly painful and anti-social.
So, the nail cutting problem. Once something we avoided entirely, it's now become a weekly necessity (it's amazing how quickly those tiny things grow), but I think I've finally found an amazing solution: cut D's nails while she's in the bath (using adult, slightly blunt scissors which seem to work much better).
There's a lot less wriggling, practically no screaming since D's too busy squirting herself with water from her rubber whale and even when D decides to splash around wildly (unclear if this is an attempt to get me to stop or just her playing), it doesn't interfere with my nail-cutting technique. Victory!
Until I noticed this hideous red bump on one of her nails which was raised and red like a bug bite and was apparently the result of D biting her little finger. The doctor told me to milk the pus out of it and now D is on antibiotics because it got infected (yes, another four-times-a-day ordeal) and the nail is discoloured and looks like it's going to fall out. So maybe nails just aren't our thing.
Brushing is, though. D loves saying 'Aaahhhhhhhhh!' and opening her mouth wide for us to brush her top and bottom teeth, and she also adores getting her hair brushed, as well as attempting to brush it herself.
She's so proud of her newly grown, curly blonde locks that she doesn't even seem to mind the rather contentious hairstyle she's sporting at the moment: an almost-mullet with a rat's tail. And much as I love D's longer tresses, I have to admit that even an adorable toddler may have a hard time pulling that look off.