Rites of Passage

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This giant statue of Superman stands in front ...

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The post I intended for today didn’t turn out quite as I expected, so I’m reposting one of my favorites, from February of 2009. Hope you enjoy!

***

Parents, you all know what I’m talking about. The first time you leave your baby with a sitter. Being thrown up on. Removing ticks. The first day of kindergarten. First date. Big days for the kids, but also for parents. Days when you have to confront your own weaknesses, your own insecurities, let go, pray that you did your job well.

I’m years away from experiencing most of these moments, but I thought I was pretty well initiated into all the rites of early childhood…that is, until Alex walked into the house wailing, with a splinter in his toe.

Splinters are nasty, I admit, but omigosh, I’ve never heard such a ruckus. One morning last week, he fell down the stairs. Nine hours later, he followed it up by tumbling off a chair and cutting his chin on the seat. The total amount of crying from those two spills didn’t equal what Julianna and I had to endure over that splinter.

As I sat on the floor examining my son’s toe, I realized that I really have no idea how to get a splinter out. When I get one, I brace a fingernail behind it and shove, to see if I can get it to break through the skin so I can get hold of it. If I can’t, I put up with it for a week till it goes away on its own.

Somehow, I didn’t think that was the right course of action in this instance.

OK, splinter removal. I knew it involved a needle, and digging out the splinter. But how, exactly?

So, with my child screaming on the floor, tears drenching his supersized Superman shirt (and when I say “drenched,” I mean his shirt was WET), I did what every good mommy does.

I called my parents.

As Dad tried to shout instructions over the din, Julianna came padding over. She got up on both knees and tried to hug Alex. She knows that’s what you do when someone is crying. But almost-4-year-olds don’t want “feel better” hugs from their 2-year-old sisters. Nonetheless, despite being shoved away repeatedly, Julianna kept trying. Good girl.

More evidence that I am just a Mean Mommy: I spent the entire conversation cracking up.

Finally I hung up the phone and got the needle in position. I was ready to mount my assault on the narrow sliver of my back deck, even without the benefit of earplugs.

And then, inspiration struck. “Alex,” I said. “Superman! There’s no way to get this out without it hurting. So I need you to be brave, Superman.”

At first I thought my plea to his stronger alter-ego was going to be a bust, but as soon as I started picking at the skin, he settled down considerably, and to my satisfaction, I discovered that yes, I am capable of extracting a splinter from my child’s toe.

Onward and upward, Mothering warriers.

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