Saturday, August 13, 2011

How not to get a splinter out of your child’s big toe

It all started with a small splinter in her big toe, and ended so badly that I’d call it one of our biggest parenting failures so far.
The screams from our house were so bad that it’s any wonder the neighbours didn’t call DOCs (thankfully we’ve got lovely neighbours with small children, so screams from either side of the fence are quite normal).
Our eldest daughter had been playing in the back yard, and quite happily showed off the little splinter she found in her foot and said proudly “it doesn’t hurt”, but we knew it had to come out.
After her bath in which we could thoroughly wash her dirty feet, my husband tried to get the splinter out with tweezers and a sterilised needle (as it had gone in quite deep), but one look at the needle was enough to send her into complete hysteria.
She was like a child possessed. Her face turned red and the panic in her eyes was something I’d never seen before.
So then it was time for strategies: my job was to distract her with singing, stories, books, TV, while hubby worked on the big toe.
But this was hopeless because she still knew there was a needle somewhere and it was going to go into her foot.
So she continued to scream and flail her arms and legs about, desperate to keep her toe away from our big grown-up hands holding a needle the size of a samurai sword.
Then things went from bad to worse.
I very stupidly tried to reason with her, and then inadvertently put more fear into her when I explained what would happen if we didn’t get the splinter out.
I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I know I used the words “infection”, “sick”, and “your foot might fall off”. What was I thinking?!My husband and I told her stories of when we were little and had splinters, and of how very brave we were while our Mums got them out. She kept saying “I’m trying to be brave, but I can’t”. 
That’s when we should have stopped, but we were so frustrated by this seemingly simple task turning into a complete nightmare, that this scenario continued on for another five minutes with us yelling “Stay still!” and her screaming “NOOOO!” 
The next day I popped over to the neighbours house to apologise for all the ruckus. She said she didn’t hear anything (whew!), and asked if we got it out in the end.
“No,” I said, “only half of it came out because she was wriggling so much, so there’s still half of it stuck in her foot.”
“Why didn’t you wait till she was asleep?” my neighbour said, “that’s what I do with my kids.”
Well, why didn’t we think of that? A simple google search on “how to remove splinters in kids” will find many parents recommending to wait till they are asleep. No pain, no screaming, and no fear.
Sometimes this parenting gig really does require more common sense than anything else, but on this particular day, ours was sadly lacking.
I’d love to hear your tips for removing splinters!


Jill said...

I enjoyed this in the paper today!
Great article.

We had similar issues with the final wobble of a tooth that was dangling by a thread.
I endedup betting money that it wouldn't hurt if I pulled it out to finish the job.
Needless to say, in this case I won!

We are doing a month of comparisons of then and now- please dropover to our blog!
We also have a free e book you might enjoy?

Have a great weekend.

Euan and Jill

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