Thursday, July 8, 2010
A Day With All-a-Boy
As he left in excitement for his scout activity on Tuesday afternoon, All-a-Boy had the good sense to pop his head back in the door and offer me a quick "Love you, Mom!" before venturing off for a tube ride down the river.
For some reason I was struck by the beautiful shade of brownish-green in his eyes just then.
Later, as he returned home, we sat together in the bathroom washing layers of dirt and grime from his feet so that I could assess a cut on the bottom of his foot, hiding in the fold of his third toe where it meets the pad of his foot. It looked pretty deep but not bad enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room. I tried calling my doctor's after-hours office as well as a few Instacare locations, to no avail. All were closed. I told All-a-Boy that we would have to clean it well and bandage it up until the next morning.
He was full of questions - will it hurt? How does water get the dirt out? Why does my toe hurt more than the actual cut? Why are there so many nerves in the foot? Why do you have to use peroxide? What causes the peroxide to get all fizzy? And on and on.
I love when my kids ask questions and All-a-Boy is never short on them.
The next morning I call the doctor's office and the receptionist informs me that stitches are not an option after 8 hours. "You mean the doctor won't even see him?" I ask. "We just leave this gaping wound bandaged and hope that it eventually heals itself?" She lets me talk to the nurse, who asks some more detailed questions about his injury then determines that he does need to be seen.
As we wait for the doctor All-a-Boy leafs through the magazine options available to help pass the time. Highlights, Ranger Rick, The Children's Friend... all of these were my favorites at his age yet All-a-Boy finds something much more interesting. He chooses to read National Geographic. He is initially fascinated by an article which talks about bone and pottery fragments which are discovered in an archeological site and pieced together with computer replicas. He then reads about the mating rituals of a funny species of Australian birds as well as power grids which control electricity in the U.S. He reads the most interesting parts aloud to me, asking for clarification on things such as 'stimulus money' and 'aesthetics'.
He is much too mature for his eleven years, I think to myself.
The doctor comes in and determines almost immediately that it is worth the attempt for stitches. He leaves All-a-Boy with a tub of water to soak his foot in before the procedure. As we sit there in the room, All-a-Boy comments to me on his observations of the room's decor - from the miniature outhouse just the right size for birds to the cleverness of the cow cut-out which reads, "Love one an udder." (har, har)
One thing I never have to worry about with All-a-Boy is silence. He always has those gears turning in his brain and he has no qualms about sharing his musings with anyone who will listen.
He flips through the magazines again and tries to decide between two issues of TIME. He's not sure which is more interesting - the story of the Times Square bomber or the clean-up efforts in the Gulf oil spill. It is not lost on me that I would easily have chosen the joke page in Highlights magazine over either of these two. He chooses to read about the Bomber and asks another round of questions: Why do people like this hate Americans so much? What would make anyone want to kill people that they don't even know? I do not always have all of the answers he seeks, and I am not afraid to tell him this.
Just before the doctor returns All-a-Boy is amused by a poster on the door which reads, "Should I ask my doctor about bed-wetting?" There's my 11-year-old. Potty humor gets them every time.
We move to another room for the actual stitching procedure and suddenly All-a-Boy can not ask enough questions of the doctor.
AAB: "What are those needles for?"
Doc: "I am going to use these to numb the area where I will be stitching."
AAB: "What's the big syringe for? Is that another shot?"
Doc: "No, this is just water that I'll be using to clean your cut out really well before we try to stitch it closed. I'll even give it to you afterward."
AAB: "Is any of this going to hurt?"
Doc: "Yes, at first. But the numbing medicine will make it so you can't feel anything."
AAB: "Doesn't it sort of freak you that you'll be pushing a needle through human flesh?"
Doc: "Nope. Not at all."
The questions continue with no end in sight. It becomes obvious that All-a-Boy is stalling. The doctor asks his assistant to hold the foot still while he injects the numbing solution into the sore. He continues talking to All-a-Boy, trying to ease his worry. "So, you were tubing with the Boy Scouts? Well, a scout is brave, right? Isn't that part of your scout law?" All-a-Boy is not amused, but I am.
I am amazed by the number of times that All-a-Boy yells out, "OW! Ouch. Okay, THAT HURT! Ow. Ow. OUCH!" Again, my 11-year-old is coming through. Once he is all stitched up and has inquired as to what sort of material the stitching thread is made from, the nurse comes in with 3 more needles.
"Um, WHAT are those for? My foot is already numb and sewed up!" She explains that he needs a tetanus booster shot since the last one he received was in kindergarten and that I have consented to his receiving his 12-year-old immunizations while we are there as well. "Well," he mutters, putting on a brave face and staring straight ahead, "I guess if I could take it as a kindergartner I can take it as a sixth grader. It can't be any worse than the shots I got in my foot today. Go ahead. Stick me."
So, 4 stitches and 3 tweety bird stickers (these were acknowledged with a hearty eye roll) later, we headed for home.
"That actually wasn't so bad," he mused as we drove along. "I mean, anything's worth it for this cool giant syringe."
I'll remember that, All-a-Boy.