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Friday, November 09, 2007

Ms. Nightingale’s services are not required

“Agh! Agh! AGH!”

I fly to his side as he has surely impaled himself on a dagger.

I see vast quantities of tears, snot and drool, but it’s definitely a blood free zone. Fooled again! I wait. I wait until the screams can turn into some words.

“It….is……badddd!” Great, and we’re off to a swimming start.
“What’s bad dear?”

He doesn’t speak but raises a quivering finger tip to my nose without making contact. I feel my eyes cross.

“Oh dear, that is bad,” I lie.
“Bad! BaD! BAD!” he bellows.

I am still none the wiser. Sensitive, intuitive parents are so in tune with their children that they can get away without words. Other lesser mortals need every clue I can get. I notice that he holds a pair of nail clippers in his other hand. Aha! I reach for his hand and examine the offending finger again. His overly long, crud filled nails, have one little sliver adrift.

“Shall I nip that off for you?”

“NO! Don touch it!”

It was a silly offer. I know he has to do these things for himself, without assistance. He will master the skill or die in the process of learning.

“I am bad. I am bad. I am bad.”
“No you’re not lovey, this is a tricky thing to do. It’s so…….tiny.”

How frustrating it must be, to have such an eye for detail but the fine motor skills of a Sherman tank?

“It not tiny, it……….gigantic!” His fingers, or rather his finger tips, are only slightly less sensitive than the area above his shoulders, another 'off limits' space.

Nail and hair cutting can be a difficult arena for many a child, but once you dip into the murky waters of tactile defensiveness, the barrier is cordoned off with barbed wire.

The days when I would sneak into his room at night to try and snip a bit of this or trim a bit of that are long gone. That campaign was a failure, like so many others.

The only true solution is self help. I am relegated to the background, to the role of coach and cheerleader.

Maybe we're both graduating?

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