When you and the kids are home sick they pretty much rule the house. That was the case this week when both dad and daughter were home sick together. She wasn’t knock down drag out sick, just the sick enough where we went to the doctor in anticipation of the school nurse calling us to pick her up, and the after-school people refusing to go near her. Fast forward about four minutes: “Dadddddd, I’m boreddddd”. Clearly, we’d already exhausted everything we could possibly do (at least according to her). We built a fort, we watched a movie, we watched a movie in the fort, we made soup for lunch to heal our colds, and comfort food cupcakes to feed them. Then I had an idea, “How about I paint your nails?” to which she replied with lightning speed, “OK, you paint mine, I paint yours.” And so it was done. She picked out an aqua nail polish while I took my next dose of cough syrup. Slowly, carefully, she painted each one of my nails on my left hand. They were so purtyyyyy. Hey, I’m not gonna refuse my kid’s request, and heck, I’m never going to leave the house with my nails painted like that anyway. Except I did.
You see, the next morning was busy as usual getting back to work, and I couldn’t find that nail polish remover anyway. Thank god it was my left hand and I could hide it in my pocket. Except pretty quickly, I FORGOT I was wearing aqua nail polish. I forgot until I started to get the funny stares and questions: in the Starbucks line when I handed over money for my coffee, in my office when someone saw me working on my computer. Here and there. I repeated the story about how we were both home sick the day before and I had painted my daughter’s nails, so she had painted mine. People got a good laugh, and I got the traditional shoulder pat, “aww you’re such a good dad.”
The more I thought about it, the more I started to think, “why do I feel the need to justify and rationalize and explain?” It’s nail polish. It’s not a crime. What kind of example am I setting for my kids if I need to explain every little thing, every little unusual quirk, every little flair of difference. It’s the differences that make us unique. So at the risk of totally embarrassing myself, I kept the nail polish on. One full day. Now a second full day. Pretty soon, people stopped asking, or at the very least I stopped telling. The polish is already starting to wear, starting to chip (guess I should have used clear nail polish on top) but still my left hand is all shiny and pretty. Yes I still feel manly, and yes I still feel like a good dad, and an incredible husband (I added the incredible). And no, it doesn’t matter anyway. There will be plenty of time for me to wear my khaki pants and button down business shirts. It’s just aqua nail polish and on one afternoon it made my sick kid smile. That made it all worth it.