An Itty Bitty Rite of Passage

A few months ago, we noticed that Katie had been picking at her fingernails.  Whenever they grew out, she would pick at them and peel off the nail edge before we even had a chance to trim them. We talked about what she was doing and I explained to her that we didn’t want her to do pick at her fingernails anymore, that all she had to do was show us and we’d clip them straight away.

Then, she picked them some more.


So, we changed tactics.  I told her that if she could stop picking at them, then I would put polish on her nails, something that we had never done before.  That quickly got her attention.

She promptly stopped.  Cold turkey.  She hasn’t picked since.

So this morning, we painted those itty bitty fingernails of hers with Ballet Slipper Pink polish, the same polish that I use on my own nails.

She was truly elated.  But for me, it was bittersweet.  I was thrilled that she was so happy, but I felt her age right before my eyes.

While she sat, ever-so-patiently blowing on her nails, I was one thin coat of polish away from tears.

Another first.

Another step toward growing up.

I’m going to need some tissues.  Lots and lots of tissues.


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  1. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    Oh Nichole, how absolutely sweet. I'm sorry your little girl is growing up before your eyes. Just as I bemoan the terrible twos, Maddy comes over to hug the baby in my belly "I hold the baby, mommy?" Yup, tears.

    BTW, this is the exact color I expected to find you wearing!

  2. Nichole

    That is so sweet…just wait until you see them together.
    Katie and Matthew make each other laugh and my heart nearly explodes from witnessing that connection.

    And are you saying I'm predictable? 😉

  3. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    I'd say you're consistent…and beautiful, darn it.

  4. Nichole

    That compliment goes both ways, my dear. You are beyond lovely.

  5. Carolyn

    There will come a day when you look at your little girl and for some reason you will see an image of what she will look like as a teenager and believe me… it will scare the crap out of you. My girls are 10, 8, and 6 and every now and then I'll look at them and they seem like they are 18 years old. It freaks me out. I just can't have teenage daughters – I can't. I refuse to.

  6. Nichole

    I'm sure that if we put our heads together, we can come up with some way to prevent them from becoming teenagers, can't we?

    They just change so quickly. I wish it would all just slow down and wait for me.

  7. Yuliya

    Oh so sweet…I know I'm being ridiculous but as I picked my almost ten month old out of the bath and cradled her I started telling her "when you were little you used to fit in the crook of my arm"…

  8. Nichole

    The most difficult part is that in six months, you'll look back and tell her, "when you were ten months old, you were my tiny baby," because you will have a new frame of reference.

    Savor every single moment, as I know you do.
    Those moments pass far too quickly.

  9. Jen

    So sweet. I feel this really intensely because my little girl – 19 months old – is my youngest and we're not going to have any more kids. Every milestone she passes, we pass for the last time. Amazing and bittersweet.

  10. Nichole

    Milestones are just so tough.
    But little girls are oh so sweet, aren't they?

  11. Roxane

    This made ME tear up. I wish we could slow down the clock just a bit. Mine is almost walking and I can feel her getting all grown up and it breaks my heart. At the same time though, at least we are raising some wonderful girls who will surely become fantastic women.


  12. Nichole

    We are indeed raising some amazing little girls who will grow up to make us proud–of them and of ourselves.

    {{hugs right back to you}}

  13. Mari

    First: Little kid hand photos are a total sucker punch. I'm done making babies, but I think my uterus just twitched in some sort of Pavlovian response because it. can't. handle. the. cute!

    Second: Sweet post. Tell Craig that the next time he diversifies the portfolio, stock in Kleenex (or it's parent company, if it has one) is a safe bet. You have so many milestones ahead…The great part about having your blog, however, is that you are blessed to be able to roll around in the milestones and really capture the essence of these years.

  14. Nichole

    Those little hands are truly the last bit of squishiness on her. She has just had a growth spurt and is now all arms and legs…such a lean little thing. But those hands? I hope they stick around for a long time.

    I truly am blessed. I think that having this blog forces me to take the time to document the little things, the things that I might convince myself that I'd remember and then fail miserably.

    Yes, stock in Kleenex would be a wise investment.

  15. CDG

    So tender and sweet (my future daughter in law has gorgeous little hands!), but you can totally tell I'm a Mama of boys, because my reaction was, "really? she *notices* her nails?"

    My Small Boy doesn't even recognize he has fingernails until either they're talon-like and I'm forced to stop him long enough to trim them (squirming and carrying on like he's being murdered), or he gets a hangnail. Then, it's "Mama! I have a nail!"

    And we're usually pretty far from the nail scissors, so I just peel the hangnails off.

  16. Nichole

    Her hands looked so ragged…seriously, like she had tried to claw her way out of a well or something. There she was all cute, except for those scary hands.

    Thank goodness the polish was enough of an incentive. I'm not sure what I would have come up with for a Plan B.

  17. bywordofmouth

    Just commented over on your 'interview' which I loved.
    (Have to share that I was all set not to like you at all, since you were up there near the top on Babble, and people that I begged to have vote for me, thought you were me since 'our' name is in the bio)
    But then I read you, and clicked to like you and then came over here and read more and now you have me here every. single. day … but not in a nasty stalker like way 😉
    My girls are 8 and 12 – but turning thirteen on January 9th – if you figure out a way to stop time in the next few weeks, I will forever be your friend.
    Much love – Nicole (without an H)

  18. Nichole

    Welcome! And thank you so much for being the friendly stalker type, which is my personal favorite. 🙂
    I'm so happy that you overlooked the Babble nonsense and have come by to spend some time here. I'm thrilled to have you. 🙂

    I'm working on that time stopping machine, trust me! You'll be the first to know when I perfect it.

  19. bywordofmouth

    Having Tweeted with you last night, I look forward to meeting you one of these fine days at a conference somewhere. Sadly, I was in Sonoma just last month, who knew all these cool bloggers were up in Northern CA? Convinced the Boca Bloggers are on a beach or being botoxed – not a one anywhere!

  20. ksluiter

    Oh my. i don't know what else to say. i can't even imagine having a little girl. i think i would be in constant tears. i am halfway there with eddie already.

    i love her little hands…and how she still has dimples instead of knuckles.


  21. Nichole

    Those dimples make me weak, Katie.
    And the day that she no longer has those dimples will be the day when I'll need to you pick me up from a sobbing puddle on the floor. Okay?

  22. You did the same thing my mom did!

    I bit my nails till I was 8 or 9. Then I asked if I could wear nail polish. My mom said I could wear nail polish if I stopped biting my nails.

    Habit broken.

    (But my mom would only let me wear clear. Which, i thought, was sort of bait-and-switch of her.)

    And yes…one tiny step toward not being little any more, but…you are doing your job so beautifully with your gentle, loving support of each step she chooses to take.

    Wonderful mom, you.

  23. Nichole

    Thank you, my dear friend.
    Your nails are so long and pretty now. I can't imagine you biting them.
    I'm planning to keep you right by my side as she grows up, okay? You always find a way to take the edge off for me.

  24. Cheryl @ Mommypants

    I have taken Sage to get her nails done several times. She loves it! The first time she was probably Katie's age. We had to wait FOREVER and they were in no hurry to do a little girl's nails. Finally it was our turn. They did them quickly – and then Sage, not realizing the polish needs to dry, touch her nails and it totally smeared. I was really stressed from having to wait that long and she started crying and i was all "We have to leave" but all the people in the salon were all, "Aww.." so the nail people redid her nails.

    Now she goes and sits in the massage chair (on a few pillows) and gets her toes done and I am so grateful I have a girl to do girly things with.

    The End.

  25. Nichole

    I kept telling Katie that she had to sit really still for a while to let them dry and I was so proud of her patience. She kept asking me all day if they were dry yet. After she ate dinner, I saw her blowing on them. So cute.

    I can't imagine the patience it took Sage to sit and wait for her turn, just to have them smudge like that. Poor girl!

  26. ~*Jess*~

    Aww. My girl does the same thing. I love that precious polish. That's a great idea!

  27. Nichole

    I couldn't believe it worked so well, Jess. Definitely worth a try. 🙂

  28. KLZ

    Oh, I do not like that at all. Katie – stop growing up. Stay a baby for me (and your mommy)!

  29. Nichole

    Yes! Please help me figure out a way to make that happen!

  30. Natalie

    Oh, I'm not sure Iike it either. I know that day will be bittersweet for me too.

  31. Nichole

    It really is so incredibly bittersweet, Natalie. Times two for you!

  32. kris

    When I was a child, I bit my fingernails down to the quick.

    But no one thought to offer me nail polish. Instead, my father bought me a bottle of some horrid tasting clear stuff with which he painted my nails. The idea was that I would try to bite my fingernails and be so horrified and disgusted by the taste that I would stop this bad habit.

    Instead? I grew to love the horrible taste of the polish that was not polish.

    Your plan . . . to reward a change in behavior instead of trying to punish the behavior itself?

    Much smarter.

    Good job!

  33. Nichole

    I've seen that horrible polish and I'm sorry that you know its taste.
    There is way too much that is bitter in that story, Kris.
    I wish only lovely flavors for you now.
    Love you.

  34. andygirl

    oh that's so sweet!

  35. Nichole

    And those nails are so tiny that it only takes one swipe of the brush.
    So adorable.

  36. so sweet!

  37. Nichole

    Thank you, Grace!

  38. Megan-Best of Fates

    When I was little my best friend's mom let us use nail polish and I painted my legs. For some reason, I wasn't allowed to use it again.

    I don't use nail polish to this day.

    Strange, huh?

  39. Nichole

    Did you shave your fingernails? 😉
    No polish for you!
    I just adore you, my quirky friend.

  40. Sherri

    Oh, I'm teary remembering what a big step this is! It's not fair, this fast-forward growing stuff. And once you've done it once, it just seems like you've turned a corner. To some, it's not a big deal…but it was to me.

    I love that she stopped cold turkey at the promise of nail polish! For several years my daughter called it "Pale Nolish" and we just adored it, never corrected it. Then one day? She said it right. And our hearts sank.

  41. Nichole

    That's exactly it, Sherri, you truly get me…
    There is no first time to polish them again. The first is behind us.
    I found myself reluctant to paint them, because I knew that that moment would never be mine again.
    But I looked at her eager face and followed through on my promise.
    I painted through tears, though, that's for sure.

    I am in love with your daughter calling it "Pale Nolish." I love those little things that make our kids unique. It is so hard when they move past those things, though. Sigh.

    Much love to you, Sherri.

  42. Natalie

    We were driving down the road one day & I heard a little voice from the back seat saying how she couldn’t wait to be big. She wanted to be 8 years old. I had to do a double take because when I looked in my mirror at her reflection, I didn’t see a 4 year old little girl. The face staring back at me was my daughter as a teenager saying how she couldn’t wait to be 16.

    They grow up entirely too fast. I understand everything my parents used to tell me when I was a kid & thought they had no idea what they were talking about.

  43. Nichole

    Our parents knew what they were talking about, didn't they?

  44. Alli_n_Son

    Those little moments always catch me by surprise too. Something so simple suddenly is filled with meaning, it's so powerful.

  45. Nichole

    I am so lucky to experience this parenting thing. What an amazing journey it is!

  46. @2old2tap

    Oh, so sweet. I remember once. Painting my little girl nails.
    Such a long time ago.
    Yes they grow so fast.

  47. Nichole

    I know that I will blink and she will be off to college.
    These years with her are flying by far too quickly.

  48. Jessica Nunemaker

    We had the same problem with our five year old. It's a little different when it's a boy! 🙂

    The Berenstain Bears Book "The Bad Habit" helped. We even used the penny trick. I love that we are now modeling our parenting skills after Mama and Papa Bear.

  49. Nichole

    Mama and Papa Bear run a tight ship…that's no-nonsense parenting at its finest. 🙂

  50. Rachel

    Look at those hands!!! So cute! Sadie loves when I paint her nails and toes- pink!

  51. Nichole

    I'm just happy they're still at an age where they are happy with pink and aren't begging for black or green or blue.

  52. whatangiedidnext

    Oh, now would you look at the pudgy loveliness of your daughter's hands? Bless.

    But after reading this, I'm left wondering why I didn't feel that bittersweet moment when my 3yo son and I painted our toenails red together…..

  53. Nichole

    That's a different moment, altogether. One that you'll have to document and torment him with when he's older. 😉

  54. naturegirl21

    My oldest delights in having polish. My husband wishes she wouldn't. Me? Well, I can't really say no when she sees ME wearing it 🙂

  55. theresahughes

    Ah, so cute! My little girl went through a horrible nail biting phase (her dad is biter). It was awful, she would bite them so much that they would hurt and even bleed once or twice. She is only 4, terrible!
    We tried the nail polish that tastes terrible, it just made her gag for the first few days and then I think she developed a taste for it. It was only when I did the same thing you did, and told her that when her nails were long I would paint them for her. Bam, success! We have had a few setbacks, but it has worked overall.

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