The pressure to perform without flaw was crushing. I felt like an accountant forced to perform a tracheotomy in the Amazon with a pen … only at least that patient would be quiet and let me concentrate.
“Do it, Daddy,” Jellybean shouted. “You’re really bad at this.”
As if the globs of blood-red polish smeared on every available surface from ankles to the bathroom tile weren’t evidence enough, I’ve got Captain Obvious bellowing while I try to make the most out of this mess.
Jellybean and I were home sick. Actually, Jellybean was sick and I was just home. As a parting suggestion, My Lovely Wife thought it might be a good idea for me to paint Jellybean’s toes … after trimming said toenails.
I don’t trim my own toenails. True, my toenails are kind of gnarly, but who really cares if a dude’s cuticles are well maintained?
But women, and in this case little girls, are different.
Truth be told, I was kind of excited. I haven’t called in sick (or as a caregiver of the sick) in three years, and frankly I think that should come with some sort of certificate of merit. Granted, I was working from home those three years — but still.
I thought the toenail painting exercise would give Jellybean and I something to do to pass the time. Upon further reflection, eight hours of “Pinky Dinky Doo” would’ve been way less stressful.
The disastrous result wasn’t totally my fault. Jellybean wanted to paint her own toenails. After the trimming, we compromised. She’d paint one and I’d paint the next, with each toenail being a different color.
We weren’t to the first pinky toe before we managed to dribble purple polish on her calf, her neck, my favorite Iron Maiden T-shirt and my right ring finger.
Also, her middle toes were essentially glued together thanks to a glorious overstroke of Colorstay Revlon administered by yours truly. “Always On” indeed.
Never mind toenail polish remover, I thought I was going to have to rent a sand-blaster or be forced to raise a child with webbed feet.
It wasn’t like Jellybean was doing much better (OK, so she’s only 4, but they are her toes, after all). With her insistence that each toenail be painted a different color, her feet looked like a Jackson Pollack painting.
For the painting of the left foot, I took control, and actually managed to make things worse.
It’s important for a man to know his limitations. Mine, it turns out, involve Revlon Ever-Growth Toe Nail polish and a trembling hand.
I just can’t paint under pressure — I actually failed art in third grade — especially when working with a child who has the patience of Nero.
But we had fun. For a sick day, that’s about the best medicine a father and daughter stuck at home can ask for.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.