So I was helping to get the girls ready for bed tonight, and suddenly the Adrenaline Junkie (age 3) became distraught. "I have a splinter!" she wailed.
Great, I thought. This generally involves me having to get out a pair of tweezers, or a needle, and inflicting something on my little ones that resembles the Death of a Thousand Cuts. At least, one would think that if one were walking by outside on the sidewalk, and didn't know what one was listening to.
So: in cases like this, it's best to go with some kind of distraction tactic, I figured. Now I could point and yell something like, "Oh look! A blimp!" but that only works once, and then you've still got to deal with the splinter. And your daughter doesn't trust you anymore. So...
So I needed a pair of tweezers.
(Incidentally, if you're three, the word "tweezers" is really fun to say, over and over again. After all, isn't that a really, really funny-sounding word? "Tweezers. Tweezers, tweezers, tweezers..."
If Tolkien thought the term "Cellar Door" had a sound that was intrinsically, universally lovely, I suspect he had to beat down a case of the giggles every time someone around him spoke the word "tweezers". I doubt he could say it with a straight face. And he never would have had written the word "tweezers" into one of Aragorn's speeches. Maybe a Hobbit would have said such a silly word, but never the Heir of Isildur.)
I left the Junkie in the bathroom, and went and got my Swiss Army Knife. It has a pair of tweezers--and a bunch of other things.
The Junkie, upon seeing this beautiful red-and-chrome tool in my hand, forgot all about her splinter. "What is that?"
So, I explained to her what a Swiss Army Knife is. I pulled out each tool in turn: the small knife, the big knife, the magnifying glass, the scissors, the pliers, the corkscrew, the philips-head screwdriver, the ballpoint pen(!), and so on... and I finally got to the tweezers. She was fascinated.
And with one hand, I gingerly held the tweezers; with the other, I held the magnifying glass up to my eye and bent in really, really close until I got the finger in focus. Sort of. The trouble is, three-year-olds have this way of wiggling; and when you're trying to look at one under the microscope, they have a way of wiggling clear out of focus.
She started giggling. (Tonya: "I remember a paramecium doing that. About the wiggling, not the giggling....") In order to get the finger and splinter into focus with the glass against my eye, I had to lean way in until I was practically sniffling her hand. She must have thought I was pretending to be a giant puppy or something, because she started giggling even harder. That splinter was becoming more and more elusive...
Eventually I grabbed something with the tweezers and pulled. I doubt it was the splinter; I think it was a wee little bit of skin. But the girl was happy; so my job was done.
So I thought. About this point the Pillowfight Fairy wandered into the bathroom and asked, "What is that?"
Sooooo... I, um... explained to her what a Swiss Army Knife was. I pulled out each tool in turn: the small knife, the big knife, the magnifying glass, the scissors, the pliers, the corkscrew, the philips-head screwdriver, the ballpoint pen(!), and so on... and I finally got to the tweezers. She was fascinated.
Thankfully, the Happy Boy was already in bed.
So I finished up the Adrenaline Junkie's bathroom routine with her, and then it was the Fairy's Turn. And wouldn't you know it:
"I have a splinter too!"
What are the odds? I thought. So I looked, and indeed: there on her hand was a little sore, that looked like it could have had a splinter in it. SOOOooooo... I pulled out my Swiss Army Knife again, flipped open the magnifying glass, and had a look.
That paramecium was still giggling, so I wasn't actually able to see anything that resembled a splinter. I explained to her that I couldn't find it; that it was either buried under the skin, or that it was a completely different kind of sore, and there was no splinter.
At this, she came pretty close to tears: "But that means that the splinter is inside me, and it's not coming out, and it's going to be there for a really, really long time!"
About as long as the gum stays in one's stomach, I thought to myself.... But I thought better of it. I explained that it would be Ok. "Your body is always rubbing skin cells off, and making new ones underneath to replace them. Any splinter eventually gets lifted off and rubbed away with the old skin. There's nothing to worry about."
Ok, that did it. And to show her that there was nothing wrong, I got a band-aid and put it over the sore. If there is a splinter there, I realize the band-aid will slow the process of skin replacement that I just described to her; but this is all about the mental health of the patient more than anything else.
Mommy's prediction is that sometime tomorrow, during craft time, the Pillowfight Fairy is going to "make" herself a Swiss Army Knife with paper, tape, and crayons. This seems to be the way of things; she is introduced to a new tool of some kind, which catches her interest; and then she makes it out of paper. She's done this with everything from DVDs (which were really quite pretty, if not perfectly symmetrical), to wings, to transmogrifiers; so I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she decides to do a Swiss Army Knife--especially given how she started giggling about the time I was showing her the pliers, and the can opener, and the corkscrew, and the fish scaler...