Special needs

Why a manicure is a big deal

Anchel Krishna gives Syona her first manicure and realises it wasn't only a new experience—it was a milestone.

Photo: Anchel Krishna

Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

Syona isn’t quite a girly-girl, but she’s not a tomboy either. She plays with dolls and cars, often side by side. She has pink things, but her favourite colour is blue. She doesn’t show any desire to wear high heels, which at the age of three-and-a-half is fine by me. She likes to play doctor as well as tea party. Syona has her own preferences, and for now they don’t seem to be dictated by the fact that she is a girl. She tends to define her own path, a fact that makes me happy and helps me know that she will always face her unique challenges head on, in her own way.

Read more: Does your child challenge traditional gender roles?

I recently invested in some great nail polishes by Julep (fun colours with a less harmful formula). On Tuesday evening I decided to paint my nails blue in honour of World Autism Day (April 2). Syona has a lot of little buddies in her awesome nursery school class who have autism. So I asked her if she wanted me to paint her nails, to which she responded yes. When I told her we were painting them blue, she couldn’t have been happier.

Syona’s used to “manicures and pedicures,” which is what we call her weekly nail-cutting ritual so that she co-operates. But she’s never had her nails painted before, so this was a big deal.

The truth is I’ve never before asked Syona if she wanted her nails painted. There was no real reason behind this; perhaps because I don’t think of her as a ‘girly-girl,’ the thought of a manicure never crossed my mind. I also don’t often do my own nails, but that changed over the last week, due to this far-too-long winter and my desperate need to get a little springtime colour in my life.

Read more: Should you let your kid get a manicure?

It’s also only recently that Syona’s hands have gotten much stronger (she used to keep them clenched and closed most of the time because of her cerebral palsy). We’re constantly working on strengthening her hands because we know how much independence they give her. Hands help us feed ourselves and dress ourselves. For Syona, my hope is that her hands will give her a way to move independently, either through the use of a wheelchair, walker or both devices. It’s easy to stare at her little hands and see all the challenges that could lie ahead. But last week’s manicure reminded me that though she still closes them often, we were able to keep them open long enough to paint her nails and let the polish dry—a feat that wouldn’t have been possible a year ago.

Sometimes all it takes is a little pop of colour to remind us just how far our little girl has come.

What are some of the little things that make you realize how far your kids have come?