It was five minutes till bedtime, not like I was keeping track. (Okay, let's be honest: I am always keeping track).
His dirty blonde hair was still wet from the bath, and a post-dinner belly protruded from the top of his spaceship pajamas.
"What's in your foot, buddy?" I asked.
I pulled him towards me, and he sat down in my lap as we both examined the foot in question.
"I dunno! Some-fin!"
Upon further investigation under his teepee twinkle lights, I spotted a splinter. No doubt, the result of him playing barefoot at the park a few hours prior.
"Sorry, buddy, you have a splinter in your foot. Mommy's going to have to get that out for you."
He looked at me, wide-eyed, unsure how to respond. I cautiously explained the removal process: that I would have to use tweezers, and that it would pinch a teeny tiny bit, but it wouldn't hurt. He seemed skeptical.
We migrated to my bathroom for tweezers and better light. Panic set in.
"No mommy, I don't want to!" he cried.
I reassured him over and over again that I was going to help him, not hurt him, but as things like this normally go with three year-olds, he was quickly flailing about on the bathroom floor like a fish out of water.
I looked to my husband for reinforcement, and within seconds he was contained in his daddy's arms. I grabbed the affected foot and gave careful instructions, "Everett, mommy is going to take the splinter out. Be very still. This won't hurt, I promise. You have to trust me, okay?"
He looked suspicious. Slightly terrified. The weight of my own words echoed in my mind. Does my own son not trust me? Have I ever given him a reason not to?
Just when I thought I had screwed everything up, counting the number of times I've said, "this won't hurt" or "we'll do that next time", a single tear rolled down his cheek and I watched his body exhale.
He relaxed into my husband's arms, and waited for me.
I squinted, and carefully removed the splinter in one quick motion. He didn't even flinch, my brave boy.
"All done!" I exclaimed proudly.
He smiled as a wave of relief washed over him, a fish falling back into water.
My husband released him to the floor, where he immediately ran his fingers over his foot and looked at me, bewildered.
"It's gone! My foot is all bed-der!!!"
"I told you, buddy. Mommy will always take care of you, okay?"
"Oh," he smiled.
I gave him a kiss on the cheek and that was it, a lesson in trust.
Everett is having his tonsils and adenoids removed this morning, as well as tubes put in his ears. We are all up before the sunrise. This is early, even for us.
I've packed his Elmo and blue blanket carefully in his backpack. I bought him a new Lightning McQueen sippy cup so he can stay hydrated in style after the procedure.
I know he needs this. But when I picture the needle, the anesthesia, the cutting, the blood, I can't lie---I get a little lightheaded. I'm not an anxious person by nature. I'm the "relaxed" one in our family. But this morning, I can't help but feel a tiny bit panicked. On the outside, I'm cool and calm and collected, but on the inside, I'm just like Everett staring at the tweezers. Suspicious. Slightly terrified. A fish out of water.
The doctor said he will be fine afterwards. "It's a very basic procedure," he told us. He's probably done this hundreds of times.
So here we are.
This morning I will sit back, and I will try to relax, and I will be brave for my boy like he is brave for me. I'll say a prayer. I will kiss his cheek before they wheel him away, and then I will wait. Wait. Wait.
A lesson in trust.