CPS could have knocked on my door today and removed me from my house, separating my family, and I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised. My neighbors probably thought I was killing my child.
Tearing down the hallway, slipping and sliding like a fawn on ice, all while screaming bloody murder, Ezra goes into my bedroom and promptly slams the door. The noise reverberates throughout the house, paired, all the while, with screaming. His dramatic tendencies kicked into high gear. Hidden amongst the screams, there are various sounds similar to ows or ouches, unintelligible at best.
Opening the door, I am faced with the wrath of a toddler who clearly has something ailing him, but also clearly does not want anybody to help. Face red with a mix of rage and pain and fear itself, I’ve disturbed the hive.
You got a love that fiercely independent streak.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, to which a series of sounds that resemble not words come. Children’s stories, as you may know, are often confusing, part exaggeration, part inability to communicate the facts, peppered with a flair for the melodramatic. Paying as close of attention as possible, I ascertained that something hurt his hand.
Easy enough. Hand hurts, dad looks at hand, dad kisses hand, end of tragedy. But of course, in Ezra’s flustered state, I was not allowed to examine said injury. As I came nearer, he, like a wounded beast at bay, reared back, spewing vitriol. Not making any sense (at the time), I did gather something about in an item going into his hand. Violent gesticulations not unlike an amateurish game of charades left me clueless.
A standoff ensues. After a few tense minutes involving screaming, throwing things, and avoiding both of his parents, I finally captured Ezra into a bear hug, attempting to examine his hand. There, beneath his tender skin, was the culprit: a speck of brown wood, embedded in me the top layers of his thumb and pointer finger, causing excruciating pain. Window-shattering, really. Somehow, an as-yet-to-be-explained confrontation with one of his wooden train tracks, the splinter, the billing and all villains today, made its way into my child’s hand.
Cue the next hour and a half of struggle.
Teaming up, my wife and I, wrangle the beast into several complicated yoga positions that involved restraining his legs from kicking either one of us, laying him down flat, controlling his free arm, prying open his injured hand, and stabilizing his head, preventing it from rotating in a 360° manner reminiscent of the “Poltergeist” movie. Then, and only then, could Louanne begin to tweeze at his skin in an effort to dislodge the skin’s squatter.
Needless to say, that did not go well.
Screams erupted from my volcanic offspring, spewing hot lava of sulphuric hatred at his parents. “I hate you!” he’d shout. “Go away,” he’d bemoan. Nestled in between such loving commentary, he did not miss an opportunity to scream louder and more shrilly than I thought possible, emphasizing “you’re killing me.” That alarming claim, I was sure, would alert an entire neighborhood to his abusive parents.
After an epic struggle lasting nearly 10 minutes, my exasperated child, clinging to me for consolation and solace, collapsed onto the couch, defeated by the speck of wooden villainy.
We, too, had reached an impasse. Demands of ice shortly followed, and the storm cleared – for about the next 20 minutes whereupon I made the mistake of mentioning a needle.
“Don’t come at me with a needle! It will hurt. I don’t want it!”
Again, this screams surpassed my expectations. You would have thought I was branding my child with a hot iron or peeling his skin off, layer by later, with a paring knife. Nope. Just a splinter. If nobody had knocked on our door yet to check what abuses we inflicted upon Ezra, I was almost certain at this point that a knock would shortly grace our door. Since it was already terribly tragic, and gauging that we had about five minutes before the authorities would be dispatched, my wife and I committed to removing the remarkably reticent splinter.
The kicking. The flailing. The wailing. In a state of perpetual terror, nothing seemed to sooth my child mid-extraction attempt. Dodging a few fists and kicks, my nose remained unbroken, my teeth intact. In an instant, in a motion reminiscent of Florence Nightingale, my wife had miraculously removed the damned splinter. Although we did not use a sewing needle, we did eventually manage to extract as are his wooden nemesis from his hand.
To celebrate, my wife and I are having a drink when he goes to bed, and I’m framing the splinter for posterity.