i woke up on valentine's day to my naked three year old begging to go shoot arrows outside. i'm not making this up. he managed to get the bow out of the closet and did not rest until i gave him an arrow..."NOT THAT ONE!"...that was up to his high, and completely secret, standards. he then walked around the house with these in hand, his round belly and small butt, putting to shame every cupid you have ever seen.
no, i did not take a picture.
i did, however, put out the small bags of the very small candies i had cautiously picked out at work the night before on the dining room table (the only table we have actually, so we do a lot more there then just dine). upon waking, my fully-clothed nine year old sees these and asks incredulously "is it valentine's day?!" i nod. because he is kind, and trying to avoid the preschooler with the weapons, he disappears to cut out a red heart and write on it "happy valentine's day mama. i love you." he hands this to me with a hug and turns to the goodies.
they are gone in seconds.
the naked cupid boy abandons his bow and arrow now that there is sugar involved and begins to whine for the lone bag on the table even though it is clearly labeled in crayons and markers that it is for his dad, not for him. all attempts to explain this to him is interrupted with a wailing noise that my neighbors probably no longer question but most likely caused eyebrows to raise initially.
at first, i try the reasoning approach:
you already had yours.
that one is for papa.
more wailing ensues.
i try distraction:
let's make muffins!
help mama feed the kitties.
tears, wailing and some anger.
switch to physically comforting while acknowledging his emotions:
let mama hold you.
i can see that you are really upset.
fiercely determined, fists of rage, clenched jaw, screaming "I WANT IT!" over and over.
i resort to:
and then i put it on top of the fridge and silently berate myself for giving into the lure of purple foil and chocolate hearts and marshmallow gooey things. i mentally kick myself for somehow forgetting, despite having gone through this before, that my child cannot tolerate any amount of sugar without melting down into a puddle of discontent and woe. wailing woe.
he punctuates my thoughts with more tantrum while i contemplate going back to bed.
after several more rounds of no-scream-no, he gives up (or maybe begins to develop his plan b) and we move onto the next thing. for me this means the dishes. for him, he goes back to his bow and arrow- including a few attempts to go outside naked to shoot it. bigger brother has found a lego cruiser in need of restructuring.
suddenly, although this happens so often it is only sudden to visitors who don't have kids, the air is ripped apart and my knees tingle as the i-am-in-pain-squeal bounces off the ceiling. the naked three year old is sitting in the hall, cradling his foot as a red circle of blood grows on the creamy pink skin of his tender sole. a slight touch and another squeal reveals a shard of glass embedded in his foot. he yells for me not to touch it even as he cries that it hurts.
and this is the lesson of the bloody valentine. so pay attention.
i sit him on my lap and instruct bigger son to get the tweezers and cotton ball which he retrieves quickly and then holds the crying cupid's hand for support. i attempt to gently pull out the shard, but of course, any touch - no matter how well intentioned - hurts and is not tolerated. he squeals and pleads with me. i try again but the tweezers slip off the small exposed edge of the glass sliver. he jerks away from me and begs with tears crashing down his face. the seconds stretch into years as i am aware of two things: 1) my child is hurting and 2) i will have to hurt him to make the hurting stop.
of course, he doesn't understand the part about trying to make the pain stop. he only knows that i insist on hurting him. i try to explain that i need to get the glass out, but like all of us, his main concern is to avoid pain. even when someone we love and normally trust is causing the pain. maybe more so because it's unexpected and confusing. especially after the chocolates.
i bolster up my resolve to get this damn glass out. i ask big brother to help and reposition the crying child so his view is not so clear of what i am doing. i firmly hold his foot and grasp the slippery sliver and somehow manage to shut out the noise and emotions pounded on my ears and heart. the sensation of metal gripping glass travels up my arm and i slowly pull at the shard- it slides out. it is so small. tiny speck of pain in my palm. he pays no mind as i try to explain how i made it all better by taking it out. his face is still red with anguish.
i am grateful that he still nurses. and i wrap his naked body in a blanket while i rock him back and forth a little bit. his breathing slows. big brother stands by quietly.
it is not even ten in the morning and my day is already epic and packed full of too many lessons, too many emotions, too many red things like crooked hearts and spilled blood and deep anger at not getting enough and sad, sad shock at getting hurt by people we love. just another februrary 14th.
or any other day of the year.