The evening started out enjoyable but plummeted downhill very quickly. Maria, Mario and I biked down to the park to meet Sarah, Jorge, and Stella for a little picnic dinner. We packed up all sorts of goodies – ham sandwiches, spaghetti, cheez-its, watermelon (yeah, our “picnics” are four-course meals) – and squealed with joy when we spotted Sarah, Jorge and Stella under the pine tree.
We ate together for a few minutes but then the kids split away to climb the tree. Within 10 minutes, I heard Mario crying. He sat on the ground next to the tree with one shoe off holding his foot. I knew right away what we were facing, and I dreaded it. A splinter. A splinter half the size of a sewing needle, if that. But to Mario it was the size of Mount McKinley and there was no way that anyone was touching it. Sarah asked to look at it but as soon as she touched the bottom of his foot to turn it towards her, he screamed and cried hysterically. She got in one fingernail push and he went ballistic. Jorge tried his magic, too, but to no avail. I knew we were going to need tweezers because he would not let us push for a long enough time to get it out.
“Mom, stop touching it” he continued to scream every time I tried to get close to him. I explained to him that we needed to get it out quickly or it would lodge into him deeper (nothing like trying to instill more fear into a kid in order to get something done). He agreed to head back home with me to get the tweezers. As I carried him to the bike, he continued to weep and he told me to hurry so that the splinter didn’t go any deeper. My fear-mongering was working.
We got home and I had the brilliant idea to do what my mom told me my grandma did to her when she was little – wrap bacon around the splinter. I got out a slice of bacon and wrapped it around Mario’s foot. This action did bring a faint smile to Mario’s face until he realized that I’d still need to use the tweezers. Allegedly, the salt in the bacon draws the splinter out. I believe my grandma used to wrap bacon around my mom and her brothers and sisters’ splinters all night long. There was no way I was waiting that long for Mario – he would have had a coronary. So, we kept it on for ten minutes and then I propped him on the couch to work on getting the splinter out. You would have thought that we were performing open heart surgery on him. He was hysterical and bawling and jittery. I kept trying to calm him down but as soon as I did, he immediately started it back up when I moved my hand towards his foot.
“Mom, let me tell you one more thing! Please mom, don’t touch me, let me tell you just one more thing.” He begged like this over and over. I finally grabbed his foot and held my other arm over his arms but the little guy is strong and he used his free leg to kick me. My temper started to flare at this point – 45 minutes after he first got the splinter. He looked at me with huge tears running down his face and exclaimed:
“I hate God because he created splinters and they hurt me!”
My poor boy. I knew that there was no turning back for him, and we were just going to have to go for it. I called in Sarah and Jorge. Sarah held his arms while I held his other foot. Jorge took the tweezers and began to dig. Nothing. Except screams of fear from Mario. He was begging for mercy and for us to stop all action. Jorge eventually handed the tweezers my way and I just ripped into the skin on the bottom of his foot. After two tries, I got it. A little splinter the size of a mouse’s hair. This miniscule piece of wood caused an hour of pure hell.
Mario was traumatized afterwards holding onto me for a good ten minutes. When I told him I’d take him to the library, he barely moved. His core had been shaken. I know one thing – he will never be a carpenter when he gets older.