Last Monday night, I was invited to a block party to meet neighbors. I realized the other day I have been in this neighborhood for almost a year, and I was a little shocked. Time flies.
Cecelia and Jack and I decided to walk, it was only about a half of a mile. It was around 5:30 in the evening, and weather here has turned so nice that even taking out the garbage is a pleasant experience. We admired houses and plants. When we arrived, early set-up was taking place at the end of a cul-de-sac. Fold out chairs, tables for appetizers, and coolers. Cecelia located her friend Sydney in the middle of a Magnolia tree. Jack watched the older kids climbing. As soon as they were distracted by electric scooters, I watched him eye the tree challengingly and jump for a low limb. He immediately crashed to the ground, guarding his hand. I ran over to him. "Jack, are you ok?" He turned over his hand to glance at his palm, which was bleeding profusely, sending him into freak out mode. He had managed to graze a small, sharp twig of wood on the limb, gouging his hand.
I eyed my EMT friend who invited me, and she rushed to my aid. We ushered Jack down to the nearest house and he sat on my lap in a bathroom in front of the sink. We convinced him to place his palm under water, to try to visualize the damage, but the pain sent his psyche into the stratosphere. Even trying to shine a flashlight onto the wound seemed to create new agony. I looked over at her. "I know you have had experience, here. If there is something I should do, tell me." She looked at me sympathetically, while Jack was crying. "Splinters are tough. My son Colin had one recently. It's pretty awful territory, for a kid. You might have to take him to the ER to get a block in order to get a good look at it." Jack said he just wanted to go home, so I carried him to her car and she drove me.
Jack was pretty quiet in the car, but as soon as we got to the house he howled with new emotion, guarding his hand like a wounded paw. "It stings so bad, mom." I called my dad, who was luckily not working or I would have headed straight to the ER, and he agreed to come right over. I turned on the TV, a SpongeBob movie was on, and settled Jack into my lap. When he was calm enough to laugh at the television, I told him, "Jack, we need to get a good look at your hand. Grandpa is coming over to help. We might have to go to a doctor, we need to figure that out by looking. If there is wood in your hand, we need to get it out. If we can to that here, with your movie, it might be easier than going to a doctor's office. Grandpa and I are both doctors, we can probably take care of it, if it isn't too deep."
"Why do we need to get the wood out of my hand, Mom?"
"Well, if it stays in there, it might cause infection. That would make your hand worse. It has to come out. It might not be in there, but we need to find out."
"I know it is in there, I saw it. But I'm scared. Mom, can you go to your computer so we can look at that Harry Potter wand?"
We had been surfing this online wand store, Alivan's, for a few weeks, and he was familiar with all the wands and the woods and their powers. I obliged. He went to his favorite, The Elder Wand. Strong, protective powers. "Mom, I really need that wand. I need something to keep me safe." I'd been stalling him for a long time, these were real wood wands, and they cost around $40 bucks - some went into the hundreds, but Jack liked the simple ones. He picked the right time to hit me up. I worried he would be disappointed if it didn't create the same smoky magic as his Harry Potter Spells app on his itouch. "Mom, I know that the magic won't work until I turn 12." Six years to stall, so I bit. "Jack, remember the magician at your birthday? The one who knew magic? He said he learned by studying books, in the library. I think the magic will start working for you when you can study and learn about it."
Dad came over, and Jack shut down again. We got him to turn his hand over first in the dark, then with overhead light. Jack was right, the wood was there beneath the congealing blood and extruding soft tissue and fat, but it looked pretty superficial. Dad left to gather supplies.
He returned with betadyne, numbing cream, antibiotic cream, and wound dressings. We got Jack to soak his hand in a bowl of betadyne and water - he dribbled some on his hand first to test it. After 20 minutes of numbing cream, during which I cooked Dad a grilled cheese, Jack was ready for us to take a look. Luckily the wood practically jumped out at us, and further probing revealed that there wasn't more. Depth of the lesion was borderline, but we decided it didn't need stitches, so we dressed it and Dad went home. Jack and I went back to the party to pick up Cecelia, and he loved telling his story to kids and adults and spent some time on a trampoline, so I decided he could probably go to school the next day.
The experience reminded me of Jack's birth. Jack was six weeks early - wimpy white male - and since my dad was a neonatologist I was granted liberal privileges, being in his kingdom. Jack never went to the nursery at night - I was allowed to keep him at my side, nursing. Despite being 5 lbs., he went home pretty quickly, and I managed to double his weight in six weeks by his due date. When he became jaundiced, Dad smuggled home a bili lamp to prevent a trip to the hospital.
While I was cooking dinner Monday night, I looked over at Dad, calmly convincing Jack to take each new step in wound care and probing, making him feel like he was in control the whole time so he wasn't scared. My dad's brand of stoic empathy boosted Jack's bravery. I recognized it well - it has boosted my own bravery throughout my life. I thought about what a great team we all make. I am so lucky.