From the second the boy arrived on the planet in full human form he had nails like razors. Deceptively small, these little digit enhancers had the propensity to draw blood at the merest of gestures. In the early days this was the zone on, or around, the missus’ pardons when his little hand would occasionally open to grab at local unmentionables when feeding. Sometimes he’d cut his face, my hand, an arm (and tits) so regular trimming of the offending horns was essential, but this was much easier said than done.
Ideally this task has to be undertaken when he’s asleep, but in reality it’s more of a case of ‘ouch, I need to cut his bloody nails again’ when he is very much awake. In either case you have to prise his little fists open before peeling each finger apart, attaching the blades of the clippers either side of the tiny, minuscule nail, before gingerly snipping… Usually this operation is complicated by his violent resistance to having his hand pinned down, once successfully secured you then have to contend with him wriggling his fingers away from the clippers, though nine times out of ten he’ll throw a fit and you simply have to give up and lock him back up in his cage under the stairs.
More recently, what with his hands a tad bigger and more of his palms on permanent display, it’s less like keyhole surgery, but he’s also much stronger so unless he’s docile you’re not going to be cutting his nails anytime soon. I have to say practice has helped too, in the early days nail-cutting was so traumatic I needed a stiff drink and rub-down afterwards. I wouldn’t say I was laissez-faire about it now but perhaps a little more care would’ve prevented me from snipping off the end of his finger last week.
I’d just cut his thumbnail when, turning my attention to the forefinger, he jerked his finger just as I squeezed down on the clipper. I knew instantly what I’d done, the little ‘snip’ sound was replaced by silence as the clippers cheerfully freed their grip. I watched in horror as the tip of his finger began to fill with blood and waited for torrent of relentless screaming… But nothing happened, indeed, the only person that was yelling was me -I was going apeshit- he was just carrying on as if nothing was doing as bright red drops of unadulterated baby blood appeared on his hands, clothes and face. I freaked out some more until the better half told me to fuck-off and calm down. We dressed his little finger in a plaster, and then had to ensure he didn’t put his hand in mouth for the rest of the day in case the plaster turned out to be a choking hazard.
I like to remind myself he’s not even crawling yet, let alone walking, so we’re not even open on page one in terms of the potential for serious injury. I’d been busy securing shelves, bookcases, doors etc., some weeks before he was born… That was after I’d decided that it was okay to tempt fate -I was worried he wouldn’t actually be born if I did stuff for him in advance. In the cold light of day, however, I can see that I’ve not even scratched the surface. Virtually everything in sight has the potential to maim/kill so now I’m prowling about the flat day and night with a hammer and a screwdriver, seeking out danger like a thoughtful Peter Sutcliffe. Consider those hinges, they could actually become unhinged if I don’t pop a grub screw over that plate… That cupboard door under the sink, he could lift that off easily, the whole lot would’ve come crashing down on that little duck-egg skull of his… Before all that bleach and Flash poured down his throat. OH JESUS CHRIST HE’S EATEN FOUR BOLD 2 IN 1 LAVENDER AND CAMOMILE LIQUITABS etc.
It’s not just imminent danger, I’ve already envisaged a whole variety of mishaps, misfortunes and disasters for just about every month of every year of his life up until, at least, his mid-seventies. The worst are the ones that are as a direct result of myself, most obviously things relating to motorcycles -though I suppose he could get a brain aneurism head banging to thrash -I’d never even thought of that one until now. That’d be horrific… But motorcycles do bother me, if I’m ironically honest, because I know that they can be a tad on the dangerous side. Now, it’s one thing to deny this to myself and another entirely to do it behalf of someone else, what’s more is that I can’t help myself but to line his bedroom wall with motorbikes, point at them loudly on the street and insist he watch the MotoGP which is achievable by locking him into my lap and gripping his little head -actually I do nothing of the sort, he’s mesmerised by it already. What have I done?
But all of that is for the future, for now the fact he simply wakes up is enough.