The boy at the salon…

Last weekend I headed in for a long overdue mani/pedi. When I say long overdue, I mean, really overdue. The remnants of pedicures past had become quite the embarassment and I got tired of wearing boots on 70 degree days.

Admittedly, I find it hard to justify this luxury and expense sometimes, especially when it comes to taking time spent away from my two-year-old, but, let’s face it, Moms need time to themselves too.

So, off I went to the salon for a little quiet time and luxuriating. I love my regular nail salon. It’s not particularly fancy but the Vietnamese women who own and run it couldn’t be lovelier and they have a great selection of trashy magazines. Not to mention, the price is right.

Sunday afternoon is usually when I try to go as it’s a pretty quiet time. The single twenty somethings who invade the nail salons on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings prior to their evenings out at the bars are usually sleeping off their hangovers so I don’t have to be subjected to cell phone conversations with “rehashes” of the night before or otherwise loud plan-making. 

This particular Sunday was no exception. It was pretty quiet with only one other patron getting serviced. I carefully selected my magazines and my polish and got ready for my pampering. My pedicurist began to fill up the tub for my foot soak as I eased back into my chair and began to catch up on the latest celebrity gossip.

About this time, a Mom walked in with her seven-year-old son inquiring about  a possible pedicure. Not wanting to lose a customer, they said that if she could just sit tight for a few minutes that they would be able to work  her in. I thought it was interesting that anyone would be so desperate for a  pedicure that they would actually bring their son with them. I also noticed that he didn’t have anything with him to entertain himself and I wondered how he would possibly have the patience to wait for his mother. At one point while they waited for an available pedicurist, the mother said “I can always come back on Tuesday if you don’t have time for me.” But, they assured her that it would be just another moment and that she should wait.

Which she did. During this time there was a lot of conversation between the mother and her son. She asked him what color she should select and I watched as he climbed onto a wheeled stool to fully examine the color choices and I winced when it slipped and he almost fell to the ground.

A few minutes later he started bouncing up and down and crossing his legs when the mother asked “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” He said that he did and she continued with “There’s a bathroom in the back. Go ahead. I don’t want you peeing on the floor.” With that she turned to the nail technicians and added “because he would.” I couldn’t really believe that a seven-year-old boy would pee on the floor of a nail salon but what do I know? My kid is still in diapers.  The mother continued  addressing the boy with “We were home all day. Why didn’t you go at home?” These seemed like reasonable questions and ones that I can almost imagine myself asking one day even if I couldn’t imagine bringing my son to a nail salon.

A few minutes later and the Mom with her polishes selected, begins her pedicure process with the foot tub soak. I, having been distracted by the interactions, get back to my reading. Only for a minute though as suddenly, the boy begins calling for his mother from the back of the salon. She says “I can’t come right now” with obvious frustration. She turns to the nail technician and says “He went to the bathroom, right?” The technician smiles and says “Yes.” No one really knows of course since we’re all out in the front of the salon. Again, the boy yells for his mother and she heaves heavy sighs obviously feeling very annoyed and says “I don’t know what to do.”  Moments later, the calls for Mom turn to tearful bellows and it’s clear that something has gone on. We all exchange glances waiting to see what the mother will do and finally, she extracts her feet from her warm foot soak and heads to the back of the salon. It’s quiet for a few moments when she suddenly emerges extremely harried saying that he had an “accident” and grabs a few square napkins before she disappears again. 

After about five minutes, she and the boy both appear. She with napkins that appear to be covered in melted chocolate, and he, looking very embarrassed and slowly backing out of the salon so the patrons (myself and the other client) couldn’t see his back. The mother says “I’m sorry but I’ll have to come back on Tuesday” and she whisks herself and her son out of the salon. We all watch as they step outside and as the boy turns to walk toward home with his mother we see that the back of his shorts are covered in what we can only assume is feces.

It is also about this time that a terrible smell begins to waft through the salon and the salon owner, who is busy working on my polish, says something to the other girls in Vietnamese and they all scurry to the back of the salon to check out the scene. I hear one of them scream and more words exchanged in Vietnamese and then mops and buckets start coming out. Apparently, it was quite a mess back there. The woman working on my nails stopped her polishing and grabbed a bottle of citrus spray to help “clear the air” of the noxious fumes. After all, this is her place of business. She can’t afford to have a salon that smells like a diaper pail.

At this point, I cannot contain myself and start laughing. The young women who had taken on the unpleasant task of cleaning up the mess emerged with plastic bags full of toxic rags and at this point they’re all laughing too. The salon owner turns to me and says “A seven-year-old is too old for that.” It seemed she was right and as a mother herself I figured she would know. I trust (and hope) that by the time my kid is in first grade that she will take advantage of a nearby bathroom and not wait too long.

It struck me though — particularly that the Mom who rushed out with her son apologized for skipping out on her nail appointment but not for wreaking havoc in the salon’s bathroom. Nor did she mention on her way out “By the way, he made a bit of a mess back there. I’m so sorry.” Or, what I would expect which is to help them clean up her son’s accident!

I wondered if she would actually show up on Tuesday for an appointment, or if she’d ever show her face in that salon again. Something told me that she actually would.

By this point, my nails were done and I realized I never really had a chance to catch up on the gossip magazines  in the midst of all the drama. It was kind of disappointing since I knew it would be at least another 6 weeks before I returned for my next indulgence but I left at least feeling grateful that my child was at home, diaper protected, and knowing that I wouldn’t have to come back to the nail salon on Tuesday.

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