We were enjoying some outdoor fun in the sun on my backyard wooden deck when I noticed that Rose wasn't wearing any shoes.
"Rose, put your shoes on. You don't want to get splinters, remember?"
"I know Mom. No one else is wearing shoes right now though."
Famous last words...
As soon as the adults sat down to our grilled dinner, I heard her wails from outside.
"SPLINTER! Mommy! OW!!"
An enormous splinter was wedged under her skin as giant tears fell from her eyes. I didn't handle it very well. I was angry. Didn't I just tell her to put on her shoes?!
I also recalled past splinter moments of her screaming in my ear, fighting me, kicking me, not allowing me to touch her feet until I forcibly held her with my body weight and threatened punishments.
Against my wishes, my brother immediately abandoned his hot steak dinner to come to the rescue of my daughter.
He had no idea what he was getting into.
After I finished my dinner, he was ready for the tag team to step in. She'd been shrieking on the floor of my bathroom for nearly a half an hour. All of the other kids were standing nearby, watching as if she was lying in torture. I walked in to see my brother, spent, and attempting to hold the foot of my freakishly strong 8 year old daughter.
I sat with her as he escaped to take a breather. I fought with her, held her, talked to her, bribed her, listened to her scream painfully in my ear for another half an hour. As I began to lose my patience, Gentleman Jack stepped in.
Gentleman Jack has been trying to convince me that he and Rose have a special bond. My Grace? She's pretty non-discriminatory about sharing her snuggles. Rose is a cynic. It takes a while to win her trust. Gentleman Jack was convinced they bonded on first meeting.
I moved aside as he sat with her. He took her foot in his hand and began talking in patient, gentle tones. He made jokes. He explained how splinters get under the skin. He explained how the needle would go in the same way. He showed her how he could run the needle into the epidermis of his hand or foot and it caused no pain at all. He taught her how to put the needle into his hand and her hand without causing any pain. He explained nerves and pain receptors and she listened with bright shiny eyes that were filled with gratitude and... trust.
I think I fell in love with him all over again.
An hour later, she was quiet but the splinter was still lodged in her foot. She was still nervous and frightened about anyone trying to remove it. But she was calm.
Gentleman Jack, bless his heart, was spent too.
Two hours and two men down, it was time for Mommy to step in. Force, shrieks, exhaustion, tears and 30 minutes later, the &^$*# splinter was out.
She thanked me with big hugs and apologies. She also thanked her uncle and Gentleman Jack. Gentleman Jack lifted her from the ground and they hugged the tightest that I've ever seen before. His arms wrapped around her, he smiled at me and mouthed the word, "Bonded."
The next evening, we discovered a splinter in Grace's foot too. Frustrated, I gave the newly-designated-splinter-removal-tools to Rose and asked her to see if she could take care of her now-shrieking sister.
As I left the room, I heard Rose talking in patient, gentle tones, "Ok, this is what (Gentleman Jack) told me. You see... the needle goes under the skin like this. And it doesn't hurt at all..."
Yeah. I think I'll keep him.