Before I could start, he turned 12.5 millimeters of dye-free liquid toward his lips. “This will ease the pain,” I said. I applied pressure, peroxide, ice, and waited. No bubbles or relief. He was brave, squeezed his eyes shut, and leaned into me; his fallen tears a circle on my shoulder. I suggested he turn away as I steadied the metal tweezers, tugged at the dark spot under his fingernail. I pulled, watched the sharp tip slip away again and again, the thick splinter, ragged wood chip, embedded and persistent under his swollen skin. He no longer bit his nails so there was just enough growth, flesh, and space for that wood chip jutted and splayed. He cried out at my pull and dig, begged me to stop. “Look away,” I said. He tried to breathe, bear the pain. I tried gentle and swift; shifted the wood toward one side of his thumb. Between his sob and wail, and my dig, the wood finally broke free. I heard the click, then saw the white and pink, listened as he sighed and marveled at the freedom. “Thank you,” he said again and again. His grateful echoed that night and in the morning. Before bed he hugged me tight, held on as the tears dampened a new round patch on my shoulder. We stood there for a moment relieved, emboldened, humbled by the dig.


    1. Thanks Nomzi.

      You telling me! There is no preparation for these kinds of parental moments; you just have to wing it and hope it turns out alright. Yikes! : )

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