True Story Tuesday: Nail Polish


Well friends, I'm gracing you with another story of mine because no one is submitting stories for this series (hint hint) :) Anyway, like the rest of my stories, this is from the same family responsible for The Stroller and On Time. And ironically I've realized that I've been telling these stories in chronological order. The first chat they had with me was about the stroller, then they talked to me about being exactly on time, and next was this story regarding nail polish. So basically, I'm taking you through my experience with this family from beginning to end. While insanely entertaining, I still need submissions for True Story Tuesday so PLEASE get at me if you have some good stories. And I know you do. I see stuff posted in the Facebook nanny groups all the time -- some of you have excellent material. I will even help you write it if you don't have time. Okay with that rant over, I present to you, Nail Polish.... I was ridiculously obsessed with my nails. I mean, obsessed. I had (and still have) a nail polish shelf with hundreds of polishes, my own gel kit, and tools for nail art. But my nails were more than an obsession. It was actually a form of self care and a way that I expressed myself creatively. It was a way for me to reduce anxiety. The process of doing my nails was therapeutic for me. You might be reading this thinking that's silly, but we all have different ways of practicing self care, and doing my nails was one of the ways I took care of myself physically and emotionally. Others might have rituals for unwinding and de-stressing by meditating, doing yoga, drawing/coloring, listening to music, doing a face mask etc. -- my ritual was doing my nails.

The family I worked for knew how much my nails meant to me. Every week I had a different color/design and I even gushed to them when I purchased a UV light to start doing my own gels at home. Then one day suddenly everything changed. I had just come back from Coachella and went to work immediately after getting back into town that Monday morning. In hindsight, I should have taken the day off, but I felt bad for taking off in general, so I hustled to work as soon as I was back. After my weekend at Coachella, my nails were not looking their best. They were chipping and I knew I needed to take care of them as soon as I got home that night. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, a small, tiny piece of my neon pink nail polish chipped off at their house that Monday afternoon. After work, I went home that night, removed my chipping nail polish, and tried out my new gel kit for the first time -- I was in love.

The next day I arrived at work and was asked to sit down for a "chat". The parents proceeded to tell me that my nail polish had chipped off the day before and that because of that, I was no longer allowed to wear nail polish. They explained that because I handled food/prepared bottles, they did not want their child ingesting the nail polish. I started crying. I know that might seem like an extreme reaction, but hopefully after reading my explanation above about how my nails were not only a physical way I took care of myself, but also an emotional form of my self care and well being, you can empathize with how I felt. I felt anxiety when they told me this. I explained to them how much doing my nails was a form of reducing my anxiety and a way for me to unwind. I also explained that this wasn't something they had mentioned prior to me accepting the job and that had they told me this at the interview, it might have changed my decision to take the job in the first place. They didn't care and stuck to the new rule. I was devastated.

While I thought they were again being over the top, I could see where they were coming from so I went home and sought to find a compromise. There had to be another solution. The next day I returned to work (with my fresh gel manicure removed) and requested a sit down. I had printed out resources of non-toxic, kid-friendly, water-based nail polish. I asked them if I could purchase some of these polishes and use them. They told me no. I then asked if I could wear rubber gloves anytime I was handling food/preparing bottles. They again told me no. These parents pretended like they were open to discuss things, but anytime I suggested alternatives or tried to get them to meet me halfway, they rejected my ideas and refused to budge.

The best part of this story though, is the very next day after they banned me from wearing nail polish, I got to work and the first thing they told me was how the baby had started chewing on the side of his crib. They walked in to find him in his crib with paint chips all over his mouth and clothes. I literally had to hold back from laughing at the irony. Here they were banning me from wearing nail polish because they didn't want their baby to ingest paint, and then the very next day, their baby ingests paint all on his own. And guess what? He didn't die.

Yet again, I did not quit this job after they took away something so personal to me. It was really hard. I honestly felt naked and exposed without my nails being painted. It was a good learning experience for me as I realized that I was too dependent on my nails as a form of coping with stress and anxiety. I'm not saying my nails were a bad form of coping -- but the extreme distraught I felt when it was taken away from me for the next 5 months, forced me to look inward and challenge myself to find other ways to cope and practice self care in a more balanced way. I also learned that them being unwilling to compromise and not caring that I was so upset was a form of emotional abuse. Everything they had been doing was emotional abuse. Demeaningly sending me down to the garage practice opening a stroller. Condemning me for being punctual. None of it was okay. It took me a while to learn all of this, but once I did, I quit. I promise, we'll get to that story one day, but I stayed at that job for 8 months so it might take us a while :)

*Yes, that photo was a picture of my own nails ;)