Fill in the blank with whatever you want to believe I thought. I didn’t say it because my kids were present and I didn’t want them to freak out. Inside, I was totally freaking out though. It was a parenting moment for which I found myself with no other response than What the $^#%! my head.
Sometimes my daughter sees me bite my son’s nails. If you’ve ever clipped a baby’s nails and cut him, you understand that it makes your gut lurch like you want to perform some kind of flagellation on your self as penance. I read that I should bite his nails to trim them in a baby magazine. My daughter is a little mommy. She takes quite good care of her little brother. Always making sure I am aware of his needs and taking care of him herself if I am blatantly ignoring them while writing these columns.
Today she was climbing over him to get out of the van and noticed his toenail needed trimming and bent over and pulled the entire toenail out of his big toe. He barely flinched. She wanted to know if we should save it for his baby box.
There were so many things wrong with this picture all I could think was What the F$%&!
What I said was, Ainsley, how hard did you bite his toenail? You pulled his whole toenail out. You are not his mother. You need to let ME do things like that. I am his mother. You must be gentle with your brother.
But, I said it calmly, like it was no big deal. Unlike when I’ve asked her to pick up the living room numerous times and I really raise my voice as if it’s a life and death situation.
I bandaged it up in the gym nursery and went back out the front door to cry and call the pediatrician. Who never called me back.
What truly disturbed me about the incident was that he barely flinched. In fact, he very rarely cries for more than a few seconds when he gets hurt. He’s fallen down stairs and didn’t cry much. Yesterday, I tried to surgically remove a piece of glass stuck in his heel and he cried while daddy had him trapped in a blanket to keep him still, but the second he was loose he was over it. In fact, just the other day my husband was proudly bragging about Zack’s pain tolerance and how we should really exploit that to push him to excel in sports.
But, didn’t they pull people’s fingernails out as a form of torture? When my daughter lost her thumb nail after smashing it in the car door you would have thought it was about as painful as natural birth. I thought back to that poor little girl I’d seen on Oprah who didn’t experience pain at all, they’d had to remove her teeth because she would chew up her arm when she was nervous as a toddler. She would get serious injuries, like burns on her hands, because her brain didn’t register when she was touching something hot. She had no pain.
I spent the next hour on the elliptical and treadmill fervently praying for health and wholeness and normal physical, mental, and emotional development for my son, and my daughter too.
Sometimes as parents, I think we wish our children could go through life with no pain. We don’t want them to suffer because we love them. But pain is good for kids, it allows them to pull their foot back or remove their hand from fire. Or learn never to something that again.
But, I was extremely relieved as he gave a wail of pain when I poured alcohol on his naked big toe to disinfect it. I was also relieved that he stopped crying rather quickly.
Mr. Z is tough and Ms. Thornton needs to stop doing my job.