The Dramatic Performance

Parenting is hard work.

One of the tough parts is that parents never know when the next pop quiz is coming – and there are lots of pop quizzes. Recently, I had the opportunity to take a “Nail File Pop Quiz.” It wasn’t one of my proudest parenting moments, and maybe I should have walked away, but instead I charged into the quiz. Looking back, I tried to earn bonus points by adding a dramatic performance. I’ll let Jessie share her side of the story first.

Jessie, Age 12
Dad said, “She’s been stepping over it like …”

Then Dad (badly) kicked his leg up high in the air pretending to step over an imaginary nail file.

First, I didn’t make a big deal out of it.

Second, I don’t know anyone who steps over a nail file while kicking their leg up to their hips. His knee was bent; he’s not really that flexible. It must have been a really large nail file.

Third, I may have been procrastinating picking it up, but I definitely wasn’t stepping over it for the fun of not picking it up as he reenacted for my mother and me. He portrayed me stepping over the nail file multiple times just for the fun of it.

So, let’s start from the beginning. A couple of days ago, I dropped my nail file on the floor in my bathroom and failed to pick it up. I figured I would do it later. Apparently, that was when Dad started his experiment. He waited until night, and then decided to give up and pick it up. He had it in his hand, but then decided, no. He ended up moving the nail file to the middle of the doorway. Apparently, I waited another day until I bent down to pet my dog, Sadie, at which time it was handy, so I picked it up. It was 11:01 at night, and Daddy yelled, “Finally!” That was when I found out, and well, you know the rest. Now back to Dad for his side of the story.


For two days, Jessie’s nail file greeted me each time I walked into her bathroom. I almost picked it up several times on Day One. As Jessie noted, I did pick it up at the end of the first day, but thought, No, this is a learning opportunity. It’s not my responsibility to pick up Jessie’s nail file. I placed the file about a foot inside the entrance to Jessie’s bathroom. Jessie couldn’t walk into her bathroom without stepping on or over it or kicking it.

So yes, when Jessie picked it up a minute after 11 p.m. on Day Two, Dad was primed for a discussion. Jessie calls them lectures.

I entertained Mattie and Jessie with my dramatic performance of a 6’5” father stepping over a nail file. Did I win an Oscar? No. Did I pull a hamstring with my high step? Thankfully not. Did Jessie grasp my point that when you drop something, pick it up in a timely manner? I’m confident she did.

Teaching is part of a parent’s job description. And though I’m immensely proud of my daughter and the hard work she puts forth most of the time, “Not yet, but soon” (a response to chores that’s a common joke in the family) wasn’t going to fly this time.

Upon reflection on Jessie’s perspective, though, maybe she had a valid point. Did she just teach me a lesson on good time management? She didn’t waste time bending over to pick up the nail file until she could multi-task. She did pick it up eventually and petting the dog made the chore more enjoyable. Dang these pop quizzes!

But whether Jessie is on the student end of the lesson or the teacher side (yes, parents can learn a lot from their kids), one thing is certain ’tween daughter and dad, I love my girl and my girl loves me.

Until next month, remember to cherish the moments.

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