Who Cares If the Paint Dries?

Red nail polish …

Pink nail polish …

Black glitter nail polish …

She wanted them all. Back and forth she went to my dresser, bringing a new color with her every time. After each time, she would plop down on the footstool I had placed in front of me, extending the same pointer finger over and over, urging me to paint it with the newest color. When it was all said and done, she had six different colors on her between her toes and hands, only then was she satisfied.

I flashed back to a time when I was not much older than her. My father sitting across from me at the dining room table. Patiently painting little lady bugs onto my small expanse of nail. A warmth in his eyes, and a sparkle in mine. I am Daddy’s little princess.

Time readjusts and I am back in the current moment. Guilt weighing heavy on my heart. Did I have that loving, patient expression on my face, like my father? Or could she see the irritation? Could she see that after the continuous, unending back and forth bringing of various nail polishes, I was getting impatient. Why couldn’t she just pick one? Furthermore, why couldn’t she sit still long enough for me to blow on them till they were dry enough. Why did she immediately pull her hand back and crunch her fingers into a fist, pulling on my patience even more as she unfolded them to reveal the fresh smudges.

And then the real question…why did this bother me so much? 

I knew the answer. Control.

Like so many other things in my life, what really irritated me most was the lack of control. But why? It’s just nail polish. It can be wiped off, reapplied, and so on and so forth. Even more is the fact that my daughter is 2.5 years-old, she doesn’t care if it looks perfect or uniform. She isn’t rigid in these ways, yet. Not like her mother.

The best part for her wasn’t that her nails were painted, but that I had painted them. Her mother. Something she has seen me do for myself a thousand times. She was happy that this special attention was being paid to her, and she wanted to draw out that moment as long as she could.

I ponder this now, even as I write this. Where is the fine line between controlling a situation and realizing not everything needs to be controlled? How many situations in the future will I realize this too late, after the moment has passed?

I hope it won’t be many. I hope my desire for control won’t hinder her desire for life, her thirst for connection, for love. I hope that I can be present with her, feel the joy with her, and not care about every outcome as if it were the end of the world. I want her to remember a loving expression, and a patient smile.

And I want to remember that it’s just paint.

It’s just paint …

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