Tales from the Nail Polish Apocalypse



Day 7 of my 30-day writing challenge

A few years ago, Kelly Ripa won a “Best-Dressed” award from the New York Post for her “un-self-conscious” style. Her reported motto was, “If it’s clean, I put it on.”

Kelly Ripa has way higher standards than I do.

My kids go to school in clothes with pen and paint stains on them, with holes and hanging seams I haven’t bothered to mend. I do draw the line at offensive odors, but the truth is, unless it’s 90 degrees out, lack of odor isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator that someone’s pants haven’t been worn past their freshness date.

Last night, though, was the lowest we’ve fallen in a while. One of my sister’s colleagues needed to produce some promotional materials, and she invited my sister’s kids and my youngest daughter to be part of a photo shoot. We needed to be there at about 10 this morning, so I got ready ahead of time. I picked out two potential outfits – they needed to be solid colors, no logos. I checked my daughter over. She was clean.

At that point, I stopped paying attention. That was my first mistake. I was busy mentally writing my blog post for the evening when my daughter came into ask me a question. She wanted to know if it was okay to paint on paper using nail polish. She was clutching a bottle that I thought was a kid-friendly, water-based polish that was mostly empty and half dried up. So – again, not really paying attention – I said, “Sure!”

That was my second mistake.

Then, my daughter wandered into the living to ask her big sister for permission to use her nail polish. Her sister, assuming that the nail polish was to be used on, you know, nails, also said, “Sure!”

That was also a mistake.

(This is the diabolical genius of kids. They make sure that nobody in a position to object knows the whole story.)

Meanwhile, I’ve retreated to my room to actually work on my blog, and I have no sense of time passing until my daughter comes into my room again, waving a bunch of papers that are completely covered in nail polish. Which I expected, so that was fine.

What was not fine was what I discovered when I started to help my daughter clean up. First of all, I discovered that the polish was not the water-based, easily washable color I’d believed it to be. It was the full-on, salon-grade, hard-as-a-diamond stuff. Second, I discovered she’d been painting not just with a brush, but with her fingers. She had polish smeared on her shorts – shorts that she had not worn before that afternoon, mind you – on her legs, and all over her hands. And the polish color? A bright, shocking crimson.

Remember, we have a photo shoot in the morning. And here’s my five-year-old, looking like she’d just bathed in the blood of virgins or some other pagan sacrifice.

I dumped her in the tub, googled “how to get nail polish out of clothing,” got out the acetone and paper towels, and got to work trying to undo the disaster.

I never did get the polish out of the shorts (thanks a lot, internet), but I did manage to clean the kid, by dint of soaping her within an inch of her life, then scraping off each fleck of polish with my nails. I even managed to do a load of laundry before bedtime, which meant that my daughter made it to her photo shoot this morning with not only clean skin, but clean underwear. Double win for mom!

I thought she had a clean dress, too, but I realized after we were already in the car that it had a spot on it.


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