“Give that to Mom,” he told Isaac. He continued to type on the keyboard, deep in thought.
Isaac handed me nail clippers. I nearly fainted.
“Do you need me to clip your toenails?” I asked.
“Essss,” he replied. He sat down next to me. I spied the long toenails that might have appeared in the Guinness World Records Book in a few more weeks. He stretched out both of his legs on my thighs. Hunched over by the light of the dim lamp, I clipped his toenails. He didn’t seem to care. He didn't flinch. He didn't yell.
It hasn't always been this easy. For many special needs kids, getting their toenails trimmed is excruciating. To complete this task a few years ago, Chris coaxed Isaac onto his back (think piggyback ride), and while carrying Isaac, Chris sat down on the couch. Isaac was pinned behind his dad. I straightened Isaac’s legs and while the poor kid kicked and screamed, I clipped each toenail. Sometimes I couldn’t get them all done at once. For Isaac, it was a sensory issue. It was painful. He was anxious. Two adults were needed to hold him down for a few minutes. Crying was inevitable. Sometimes Isaac even cried. I'm convinced clipping toenails took a few years off my life expectancy.
“I’m playing with Henry’s Nintendo for a while before bed, and I know I’m not supposed to,” his eyes said. He looked back at me as he walked down the hall to his room. Was he smiling because he got away with something? Did he enjoy the feeling of his short toenails? Was he proud of himself? Was he thinking about going to Burger King? I may never know.
Play the Nintendo for a while, I thought. I clipped ten toenails in a few minutes without sweating, and Isaac went back to bed.
It's time to celebrate. Tomorrow I'm calling the salon to schedule my pedicure.