Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cut it Out!

Do you think someone will call social services on me if my son’s toenails have grown so long they curl under his toes? They’re not quite like this picture yet (ewwww!), but they are on the way. I had no clue until he took off his socks tonight and said, “Mom, when you see these nails you are going to scream.”

It’s just that Jake turned 10 today and I’m trying to figure out what is his domain and what’s mine. When we snuggle in bed and he caresses my face with hands that, frankly, smell like ass, I consider it my domain to tell him to get up and wash them.

He brushes and flosses like clockwork, and even uses an hourglass to time himself. His bed is made every day with hospital corners, while mine is thrown together and all of Molly’s covers just stay on the floor. He practices his recorder and piano every day without being asked.

But what of bathing? Does a kid ever say, “I’m dirty and I need a shower,” or will I be setting this schedule from here into the foreseeable future? And the nail clipping? I guess I should have shown him how to do it himself before now. I mean girls his age have breast buds and are about to enter puberty, but it never occurred to me that my own spawn would ever be old enough to use nail clippers.

It’s kind of like the phone. My friends who have had jobs outside the home their kids’ whole lives, have kids who can speed dial them at work, text, manage call waiting, and likely order from Dominoes.

On Jake’s birthday today, as the well-wishers started calling, I became painfully aware that he doesn’t even know how to use the phone. Sure, he has known our number since he was tiny and we did all that McGruff the Crime Dog stuff, but the actual physical process of using the phone? Not really.

When I tried to give it to him to accept birthday phone calls, he shrunk back as if I were trying to hand him an electric eel. We ended up having it on speaker so he could talk to his relatives without actually touching the feared apparatus.

Playdates? Both of my kids would rather die than call a friend. They either beg me to do it or wait for someone to call them. Meanwhile, I have a little Alex P. Keaton next door with stellar phone skills who calls, properly identifies himself, inquires about the entire family’s whereabouts, and sets up multiple social activities.

I think the complete lack of phone know-how comes from the fact that for 9.5 years, the kids were with me nearly constantly. No real reason to call anyone when the provider of every need is right there with you.

I guess the toenail and the phone thing make me realize that while these kids are learning all of the state capitals, square roots, and what a stalactite is, perhaps they are a little lacking in the life skills category.

It’s as if the scales have fallen away from my eyes and I can now see that I share my home with 2 feral cats. I used to think we had all the time in the world to address these matters, but now that my guy has reached DOUBLE DIGITS, I guess I’d better get cracking.

Or get him clipping, I suppose.


Rebecca said...

Hmmm, interesting. So that's what I have to look forward to with my boys.

Nails are a pet peeve of mine. I can't deal with long nails on my boys so I'm always on them with the clippers.

They resist me but so far, I always win. Of course, they are only 2 1/2 and almost 4, we'll see what happens when they get a little older (and stronger!).


Mags said...

My kids are younger (5, 5, 4), so I still do most everything for them. Right now I have 5 months to get the kids to wipe their own butts before starting Kindergarten. :)

Ami Rae said...

I think you should have a little moment of personal pride for realizing this before your youngins went off to college. My girlfriend and I often talk about how many of our other friends do EVERYTHING for their kids and what those kids will have to learn when they get older. I had an employee that was 18 and not only did her father come with her to her interview but he drove her to and from work every day since her parents hadn't let her get her license yet. . She would not ever answer the phone at work and told me she was scared to. I felt sorry for her but she also got on my nerves so bad I eventually let her go. This is obviously and extreme case, but it really illustrates what can happen. So be proud of yourself for being so aware. I swear that it makes more of a difference than 3 square meals a day. ;)

Debbie said...

My middle son is just like this. I think it has more to do with personality than parenting. Because the other three aren't like that at all.

L said...

My 10 year old still doesn't clip his own nails. I keep thinking I need to work on that, but always just end up doing it myself....

Shana said...

My 10 year old girl? Came home with a little tiny bit of spotting a few weeks ago. I had to explain how to use feminine hygiene products to a child that also cannot use nail clippers and has to be reminded to wet her hair before washing it with shampoo, after having been forced in the shower.

Something is just not right about this.

Happy birthday to your boy : )

Shawn said...

Well, I have to admit that my hubby is the one that gets to trim the nails of my little guy---he is obsessed with bad toenails---so I say, more power to him!

Gretchen said...

o my god why did you have to show that toenail picture. GROSS!!!

But, seriously, I get my kids to take care of themselves and do their own thing by TOTALLY wrecking it when I do it. My daughter always cries when I comb her hair or clip her toenails. So now she does them herself. And the phone? Well, I just teach by example. quite often. LOL

K said...

I am very worried that this might be a boy thing. My four year-old doesn't want to "aim" himself unless he's at school. I have been trying to encourage some independence, but so far, he's real happy to let mom do a lot.

Sokphal said...

Take him to get a man-pedi. That might make him learn to clip his nails on his own.

Brooke said...

Not all associated with good personal hygiene is, well, good. To play devils advocate let me tell you about the negatives produced by my children. They LOVE to shower and know how to turn it on themselves and hop in, they stay in there for what seems like hours singing and playing. After we moved to our new house in Texas they decided that the master bathroom was a better playroom than the actual playroom. They always turn on all of the shower heads and watch the earth's natural resources literally do down the drain. Our water bill on more than one occasion has been over $400. Needless to say we have had several talks with our kids about the "Cheaper by the Dozen" Dad's philosophy on showering, in and out.

They also chase each other with nail clippers and have developed a weird fascination with pulling their own nails off once they've been partially clipped. STRANGE.

And, lastly, my niece calls me frequently to shoot the breeze. She definitely has dialing disease and thinks it's very cool to be in third grade and call people in other states. I wish her mother hadn't been so prudent in teaching her the ways of the phone.

Live and learn, the grass isn't always greener.

Heidi said...

Okay, the bit about his hands smelling like ass did me in! Very funny! Is it bad that sometimes I say the same thing about my kids' breath?
Great post.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Anna - that picture is horrifying. It's going to haunt my dreams. Who lives like that?

I have of yet to encounter any of this... Not looking forward to it.

As for toenails - get Dad on the job. At a certain age - moms deal with the girls and dads deal with the boys. At least when it comes to bodily functions and maintenance.

Unknown said...

whew... those are some long nails! ha!

My son is two, so I still have to do it anyways, even tho he shows an interest in doing it himself. I have a thing with dirt under fingernails, so we have been doing this once a week(once every two weeks at the most) so we are in a good routine. Sometimes I wonder if there are other things he should be doing.
A girl friend of mine also has a two year old(3 in april), who can make his own bed... but still isn't potty trained. and I think I'm glad that mine is potty trained, but it sure would be nice to walk in there to fine him room nice and clean!

Unknown said...

I have thought about exactly this quite a bit.....My 6 year old knows how to work the tivo, but not the phone. He doesn't trim his nails or wash his own hair...but he does brush his own teeth and will get dressed on his own although he would still rather me dress him because he is LAZY. He doesn't know how to ties shoes laces yet...but can navigate around the wii or our iphones to get to the games he wants. He can get his own breakfast, but forgets to flush the toilet and put the lid down every. single. time. I guess we have some work to do too.

Jacci said...

Anna, thanks so much for leaving a comment on my blog :) I've actually visited your blog before (can't remember if I've commented), and didn't realize that it was you on This Young House.

Too funny about your son's nails... well, funny and gross.

By the way, you said they were with you 24/7 for the last 10 years - are you home educating?

Thanks again for the comment!