Splintered

I am four people away from getting my single Friday night margarita when I see my husband frantically waving me out of line at our favorite taco joint. I had been deep in conversation with a dad behind me who was giving me his opinion of the public middle school our son is slated to attend. This is my obsession of late, which is why I didn’t notice my husband leave the line.

I apologized to the man and walked over to my husband. “We have to leave. Jude has a splinter in his butt.”

There are words you learn to expect when you’re a parent.

“The dog rolled in cat poop.”

“Why can’t I pee outside? Animals do.” 

“Iris punched me in my head.”

“If we get enough snow, can I jump off the roof?”

“Before you walk into my room, let me explain what happened.”

“I peed/pooped my pants/the bed/at camp.”

“You’re old for a mom, aren’t you?”

Splinter in the butt was a new one, and I will confess, my first reaction was not one of sympathy, even as I looked at my son who was fighting back tears. It was a pity party for me because my husband was finally recovering from the flu (yes, he got a flu shot) and I had been a single mother for most of the week at my brand new job. My pitying sing-song went something like, ‘All I wanted was a stupid margarita and fish taco. Yet another week in which mom gets nothing for herself.’

My husband tells me he has taken an initial splinter peek in the bathroom and it’s bad. We are immediately moving and winding our way back along the 45 minute long snaking line, taco hungry customers probably grateful to be four people closer to the order counter.

Away from the crowd, my son explains he was sitting on one of the benches with another boy, playing each other in video games on their phones, when he scooted down the bench.

And that was it. The perfect angle for a waiting spike of wood to take a dive into my boy’s left cheek.

Happier days long ago on ‘THE’ bench with buddies.

“I can’t sit in the car! I can’t do it.” The tears are flowing freely now as he limps across the parking lot.

“Try to sit on one cheek,” my husband offers.

He winces from the back seat as we discuss what to do on the drive home.  “How bad is it?” I ask. “Can I get it out?”

“I don’t know. It’s a big black spot that looks all the way in.”

Ouch.

The ER at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta looms. A kids’ ER on a Friday night. The opposite of a margarita and a taco.

We go into breaking news parent mode. We decide we will put him on the bed and use my husband’s professional lights so I have the best possible lighting. I decide I will use my tweezers and a tiny tipped knife.

When my son hears the word ‘knife’ from the back seat, he yells out, “Knife? What are you going to do with a knife?  WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH A KNIFE?”

This is when I fake it. I explain how I will get the splinter out and not hurt him and make things okay. This is the ultimate in adulting, pretending you know what to do, even in splinter-in-the-butt scenarios.

I know.

The situation does not improve 10 minutes later when we are setting up production lights and I place the tweezers and knife on the bed.

“Mom. MOM! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” He is wild eyed, looking at me like I’m about to shoot up heroin.

I begin to explain that I’m not going to stab him with the knife, but that I will use it to whittle the splinter out. He doesn’t like that explanation. At all.

We get him on the bed and he is saying, “Wait, I need to calm myself down, I need to calm myself down, I NEED TO CALM MYSELF DOWN,” yelling now.

Holding his hand, my husband gently pushes his head onto the bed and that’s when I get my first glimpse of the splinter. Oh sh*t Oh sh*t Oh sh*t. Be cool, woman. Be cool.

It’s big and there’s a tiny part sticking out of the skin. I gently grasp it with the tweezers and lightly pull. The wood snaps off and my son screams, unleashing the mother of all curse words, the one that got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap in ‘The Christmas Story.’

We let it slide, not even acknowledging the word. This situation has earned him a free pass in the ‘F’ department.

I go right back in, this time having to go below the surface of the skin with the tweezers. The waiting room of the ER is coming into sharper focus and I decide I will go down swinging.

I maneuver the tweezers around the teeny tiny tip of the splinter. My son is shrieking now as I begin to pull, trying to be steady and straight. The image of me as a little girl pulling earthworms from the warm dirt of my parents’ garden pops into my head. It is that delicious, sickly sensation, the reluctant exiting of something that would rather stay buried in the moist earth, or in this case, my son’s rear end.

 

Then it’s out.

The screams immediately cease and he lifts his tear streaked face from the bed. “Oh thank you, Mommy! Thank you!” He suddenly sounds like a gracious child actor out of a Sound of Music style movie, minus the British accent.

I check to make sure I got all of it and then he is off the bed, restoring his dignity with the pulling up of his basketball shorts. He races from the room, the incident already behind him.

I show my husband the splinter. “Jesus.” I nod. It’s the biggest splinter I’ve ever pulled out of anyone.

My son hugs me until bedtime. “How did you do it, Mommy?” At one point he says, “You know how to do everything.”

I don’t point out the truth, that dealing with life’s splinters is a crap shoot that just happened to go our way this time.

Margaritas be damned, I wound up being a Friday night hero.

That is happening less and less as my kids grow up.

I’ll toast to that.

 

 

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33 comments on “Splintered
  1. Marsha says:

    Whatever you do don’t tell JUDE “butt” I am laughing my fool head off

  2. Nancy Jo McDaniel says:

    Sweet, memorable & funny story!!!!! XOXOXO

  3. Roger Rock says:

    One of the best stories I’ve ever heard!

  4. First, you deserve a giant sparkly cape that says “Super Splinter-Taker-Outer!” Second, let’s all make a pact that this rendition doesn’t make it to J’s rehearsal dinner or ordination party. Third, I find many times that people with strong opinions of middle schools don’t actually have first-hand knowledge of them. Fourth, I love to read everything you write! Story brings back memories of when my oldest had terrible warts – he was about the same age as J at the time. We had to do lasering treatments, and they clearly hurt like a son of a gun. Will let loose with f-bombs with the technician, and we both let him just curse away. Well deserved.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      I love that you let your kid curse his head off…sometimes it’s okay. My dermatologist offered to freeze a wart off my son and he couldn’t get through it. No ‘F’ words that time. And yes, I wrote to another friend that Jude has been recognized by people who’ve never met him who say, “I know you from your mom’s blog.” Then I get the side eye and some questions. How in the world am I going to give up writing about him? Also, plenty of stuff happens that hurts his heart, etc.. and I’m smart enough to not put it out there..but splinters and butts? like peanut butter and jelly!

  5. Wayne Delk says:

    All those moments are what many of us thrive on. Parenting moments like these test us and help us teach our children so much about problem solving. We learn to wear an assortment of hats, and even that of ER doctor! Good Lord, that’s a helluva splinter!

  6. Richard Crabbe says:

    Good call on the ER. We had a stretch where we showed up at Egleston so often (three boys) that the reaction was, “oh, back again.” You don’t want to get there. Does young JW read your work, or is it something that remains hidden away? I agree with Ms. Fuss that this should never be brought up in front of his friends until he reaches his 40s (unless he mentions it himself). You always make me laugh (“Jude has a splinter in his butt!”). Trying to picture Mr. Hamilton delivering THAT news.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Richard, You’re the Gold star level parent in the ER department and I will never match you. Jude does not read my blog, but two or three women out in public have said to him, “Oh! I know you from your mom’s blog!” Jude is like “Mom, what are you writing?” “Nothing….”

  7. Mary Jane Moss says:

    I always love what you write!!

  8. Kay Petzelt says:

    I love reading your stories – they are always the best! And, where in the world do you stand in line for 45 minutes for a taco? They must be really, really good. I’d love to try them!

  9. Carolyn Donaldson says:

    Great REAL story told beautifully! Thank you!

  10. Carol Elaine Shirley says:

    I can’t help it Jaye….I am laughing so hard….Do you have any idea how many times I have been down this road with Andrew my son…Hun, just pull up a big foot stool and prop your feet up and BREATHE deep breaths…If this is all your boys do you have it made. And, take a big sip of the margarita relaxing in the chair with your feet propped up getting ready for the next ADVENTURE boys get into. I use to tell Andrew when he was a child…”stop that screaming, you are going to live.” It was embarrassing taking him to the ER for some of the stunts he pulled…Example: swallowed a steel ball and told the ER doctor that he was laying in the floor and the ball just fell into his mouth and he swallowed it..The ER doctor just looked at me and when you go to the ER and waiting to be called back to see the doctor and the nurse sticks her head out the door and says “ANDREW POWELL…YOU CAN COME ON BACK…WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE YOU DONE NOW?” I feel like we should have a room with our name on it at the ER…lol…I promise you this…TREASURE THESE TIMES because I promise that one day you will look back and LONG FOR THESE DAYS…I know,,it sounds crazy, but there are no sounds in the house now…I can enjoy my margarita but there are no sounds of the innocence of children in the home…all grown and have families of their own. I so enjoyed you sharing your story….A very good Mom that could get that SPLINTER out of your son’s fanny. The things we Moms have to do. Oh, by the way,,,we had a swear jar in our home and each time a swear word came out of our mouths we had to put a $1 in it…I had to put quite a few bucks in that swear jar over the years. LOL

  11. Carol Elaine Shirley says:

    I can’t help it Jaye….I am laughing so hard….Do you have any idea how many times I have been down this road with Andrew my son…Hun, just pull up a big foot stool and prop your feet up and BREATHE deep breaths…If this is all your boys do you have it made. And, take a big sip of the margarita relaxing in the chair with your feet propped up getting ready for the next ADVENTURE boys get into. I use to tell Andrew when he was a child…”stop that screaming, you are going to live.” It was embarrassing taking him to the ER for some of the stunts he pulled…Example: swallowed a steel ball and told the ER doctor that he was laying in the floor and the ball just fell into his mouth and he swallowed it..The ER doctor just looked at me and when you go to the ER and waiting to be called back to see the doctor and the nurse sticks her head out the door and says “ANDREW POWELL…YOU CAN COME ON BACK…WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE YOU DONE NOW?” I feel like we should have a room with our name on it at the ER…lol…I promise you this…TREASURE THESE TIMES because I promise that one day you will look back and LONG FOR THESE DAYS…I know,,it sounds crazy, but there are no sounds in the house now…I can enjoy my margarita but there are no sounds of the innocence of children in the home…all grown and have families of their own. I so enjoyed you sharing your story….A very good Mom that could get that SPLINTER out of your son’s fanny. The things we Moms have to do. Oh, by the way,,,we had a swear jar in our home and each time a swear word came out of our mouths we had to put a $1 in it…I had to put quite a few bucks in that swear jar over the years. LOL

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Carol, I just love this! You made me laugh AND tear up. You should write a blog! I’m going to give Andrew plenty of grief next time I see him. A steel ball? Fell in his mouth? My goodness! You’re right, I will miss these days. I hate that the wisdom usually arrives after it’s all over, but I will say, I have moments — in the middle of it — where I know I’m going to blink and he’ll be off living his own life. Thank you for taking the time to write me, and thank you for reading. Cheers!

      • Carol Elaine Shirley says:

        If you really want to give Andrew a hard time, ask him about trying to fly like Superman at the age of 3….Stood in a chair and dove into the air and landed on the coffee table….6 stitches in the back of his head. I still aggravate him about this stunt. Andrew loves to live. Love him to the moon and back.

  12. Terry Chapman says:

    You know you have gone over the edge when something happens and your first thought is “wow, this is going to be a great blog!” I write for the woodworking store and had a piece of plywood kick back on the table saw and almost take my head off, break my nail and split my finger open. I couldn’t wait to write it up! Always look forward to reading your stuff.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Terry, yes! Good God, I’m glad you’re okay, buy the way. I didn’t think about writing about this until I had the splinter in my hand, and I was like “Damn, that’s huge!” There is more and more I can’t write about, to protect his privacy as he’s getting older — you would think ‘splinter in the butt’ would fall under that..but it was too good! Thanks for reading..and for goodness sake, be careful at work!

  13. Bob Trivette says:

    Thanks for sharing .I remember when our daughter Kathryn got a pencil eraser stuck in her nose!!

  14. Nurse nancy says:

    You are a hero I’m glad he is ok

  15. Elaine says:

    great story. bless his sweet heart…

  16. Jimbo says:

    We’re parents. Cooks. Chauffeurs. Shrinks. Wardens. Magicians. Teachers. Narcs. Guides. Cheerleaders. And, yes, surgeons.

  17. Carole Campbell says:

    I love this story! You are a hero in my book – and a wonderful mom.

  18. Susan Euart says:

    Jaye, this story brought back such memories!!! Instead of it being a child…it was my husband with the same size splinter in his rear! It was 35 years ago and we were at a 6th grade football game at Bagley Park on Pharr Rd. Someone asked him to move down the bleachers and he just lid down…and the splinter slid right in! When we got home he showed me the splinter!!! It was hard not to laugh at the situation. I told him he needed to go to the ER! He said, “I AM NOT GOING TO THE ER AND TELL THEM I HAVE A SPLINTER UP MY BUTT”!!! Soooo…I told him to lay on the bed and our 5 kids all held flashlights (I don’t have a videographer for a spouse) on their dad’s rear end and I did the same surgical procedure that you did and got that big ole piece of wood out of his ass!!! The kids were dying laughing! Well….we did say “In good times and bad and in sickness and health” didn’t we!!! I am laughing out loud right now!!! John wants to know what I am laughing at….I’ll get him to read your blog…then this! I love you girl…and what you write 🙂

    • Jaye Watson says:

      I am just seeing this! Of course you dug a splinter out of your beloved’s rear…you’re my kind of girl! Thank you sweet friend…xoxo

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