A son is one of the greatest joys a father can have. Not to take anything away from my darling five daughters (they each have their own special perches in my soul, to be sure) but nothing quite compares with the father-son relationship. Probably the most gratifying of all is watching him slowly begin to evince traits that will eventually make him a man. Everything from listening to him reason through why things are they way they are to watching him take physical risks to accomplish something for guts or glory. When the latter happens, I applaud him if he is successful and relish the fact that he derives pleasure from such activity. Sometimes, though, he ends up running (or limping) to me after such an event in need of some special attention, whether it be a wound cleansing, a bandage application, or the occasional splinter removal.
Yesterday, he came hobbling to my office saying that he had gotten a rather large splinter. I hoisted him up into a chair, and had him show me the bottom of his foot. And it was quite a doozy. The splinter itself was almost an inch long, and about three quarters of it was lodged into the ball of his foot. At first I tried to use my tweezers on my pocket knife to pull it out, but the friction was too strong and all I succeeded in doing was breaking off the exposed tip of the splinter. I told him I would have to cut it out. On previous occasions, I had used the small blade of my pocket knife, but it was simply too dull to cut the skin without a lot of pressure. I told him to wait and I would get a knife that wouldn’t hurt as much. I went to my toolbox, and retrieved a brand new razor blade whilst he soaked his foot in some warm water.
When I got back, he still was a little apprehensive. To show him how good the blade was, I showed him the tip of my thumb, and cut off the top layer of skin so that he could see that the sharper blade would hurt less. I then began to make a small incision where the splinter was. He was pretty pleased that the first cut didn’t hurt. To my surprise though, the splinter proved to be a lot deeper than I had suspected. I told him that I would need to cut deeper to get it out.
I then took a clean sock from my sock drawer, rolled it up tightly and told him to put it in his mouth and bite when I started cutting. He placed the sock into his mouth, grabbed the sides of the chair with both hands, and then bit down. I made a large and deep incision down to the splinter itself. He stayed steadfast and bore the pain quite well. Then I showed him how we almost had it out. I was able to get the blade underneath the splinter at that point and loosen it a bit. Carefully, I extricated it from his foot and showed him the prize, which he was all too pleased to see.
I was quite pleased with the bravery that the little five-year-old mustered for the occasion. But since he’s still only five, per his request, I told him he could have a red gummy when it was all over.