Splinter, Snail, & Bedtime
I found a wood splinter on Baby Dog's palm the other day. I was going about my usual business of wiping Baby's hands after supper in what we call minty bubbles (a metal bowl of warm, peppermint soapy water) and spied the puffy, red sore. "Oh no!" I exclaimed to Halmonie; "Baby Dog has her first splinter!" Halmonie said, "Oh no, eek! I can't possible do it! You do it!" and went into the next room. "Of course I'll do it," I thought, and proceeded to sterilize a sewing needle and my Tweezerman in a shotglass of rubbing alcohol. I then lifted Baby Dog onto my lap, took her hand, and began making a small hole in her skin out of which to pull the splinter. All the while, I reassured Baby Dog by telling her that we were going to use "Mr. Tweezer" to pull the splinter out and that she'd be okay. Baby Dog withstood the operation like a champ, until the needle pricking started to hurt. There was a bit of fussing, but no all-out bawling or screaming. After a couple of attempts, I pulled the offending piece of wood out and said, "All better!"
I find it amazing that, when kids have no preconception of something scary (e.g., a needle poking at their skin), they are fearless. Baby Dog regarded the sharp needle that I was about to jab into her flesh and didn't even flinch. Until I started poking and prodding too vigorously. I'll bet that next time she has a splinter, she'll recoil in fear when I get out the needle and tweezers. But maybe not. She's has a high tolerance for pain and discomfort, our girl does.
I've never removed a splinter from anyone's body but my own, but when I saw that Baby Dog had a need, I jumped right to the task with no fear. In a way, it was the opposite experience of what I've just described. While tweezing Baby Dog's wound, I could not shake the mental image of Ian Holm cutting a hole in his daughter's neck (to prevent her from dying of a spider bite) in that heart-breaking film by Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter. No fear at all. While I am all too aware of the scariness of certain situations, when my daughter is in danger or is hurt, I am all over it without a second thought.
It rained in the East Bay today, which meant that the snails were out in full force. I found several on my evening dog walk and, on a whim, brought one into the house and placed it on the ledge of the bathtub while Baby Dog underwent her nightly ablution. We stared at it for a long time before it gathered the courage to put out its horns and start sliming along the porcelain. When it finally did, I said: "Okay, that's enough of that," and swiftly crushed the pathetic mollusk under my shoe. Well, no I didn't. I took it outside and placed it in a puddle on our front steps. But when I was a kid, I'd think nothing of crushing snails under my feet. What a sadistic little brat I was!
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A Break in the Routine
Tonight bedtime was easy. After Baby Dog's bath, I read her "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" (less fun than the original), sang her a couple of songs on the rocking chair (Dites Moi, Bicycle Built for Two, and Hush Little Baby), said "night-night," and put her in her crib to sleep. There was no "Start beginning" or any kind of fuss whatsoever. I was not even asked to go around the room so that Baby Dog could touch her owl, the moon, the pinecone, the ampersand, and other decor. We successfully broke from the bedtime routine! Perhaps our daughter is feeling more control over her world, therefore has less of a need to institute rituals for everything.