It seems like possibly a year ago or so (can that even be?), Julian picked up the terrible habit of nail biting. He would bite them all the time, wherever he was. He bit them so short that I never had to cut them, and I literally haven’t cut them in many, many months.
He bit them in his bed while trying to fall asleep, while watching TV, on the subway, at school, while reading books, and pretty much anywhere. It was the most annoying habit, and it could not be broken. We tried persuasion, lots of talking, threatening, convincing, and even disgusting tasting nail stuff. Nothing deterred him. It was such a habit that he wasn’t even aware of what he was doing most of the time. Sometimes his cuticles were raw.
And then I discovered something that was even stronger than Julian’s desire to bite his nails: his strong will and determination.
We made a sticker chart and he was promised a new toy. The first few days were rocky and he didn’t get a sticker. If he bit his nails only once, no sticker. Once he got a couple of stickers, he was unstoppable.
Every night we celebrated his success. I kept telling him how incredibly proud I am of him – because I am. I almost couldn’t believe how determined he was. It blew my mind, because I could tell how hard it was for him to kick the habit. But he did it. He and his shiny long nails.
Of course he knew exactly what he was working for: the Japanese Shinkansen high speed train toy.
Last night Julian got the final sticker, and today we went and picked out his train.
Well done, kid. I should have guessed right away that your strong will is the only thing that would eventually make things happen. Your strong will, and your larger-than-life love of trains.