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For eight years, I raised four step children. We had many battles, one of the more memorable ones was:
The Battle of the Wounded Knee
The oldest boy Chris had a lot invested in seeming like a tough guy. That was part of what
was behind his weight problem--to him, the extra size represented safety.
At nine (in third grade) he already outweighed me (and more importantly to him,
his mother), by ten he was over 200 pounds. After we started all four kids in karate,
Chris surprised everyone with his athleticism. The kid was almost as wide as
he was tall, but he could do side kicks above shoulder height. He would square
off like a Sumo wrestler and go at it full out. From age eleven on, he had to
compete against adults instead of other kids, because of his size. It had to
be scary for this baby cheeked kid to go up against guys with beards and tattoos,
but he did it (and quite often won).
His balance wasn't so great though. He wanted to ride bikes and skateboard
like the other kids, but it was always a challenge. One day he came limping home,
having "wiped out" going down the hill of our street. He had completely skinned
off one knee (and part of the shin) and there was dirt, gravel, and grass
embedded in the wound. It seemed that all the kids in the neighborhood had
escorted him to our door. Chris was cracking jokes and saying he was fine,
but I could see in his eyes that he was in a lot of pain. What I didn't realize
before, was that the kid was terrified of the sight of blood.
The minute we shooed the other kids away and shut the door, he broke down into
great sobbing cries. We got him laid out on his bed and began the battle to
clean his wounds so we could bandage them. He was screaming and thrashing as
I tried to hold his leg and his dad tried to wash the wound. I knew enough to
have gotten a dark brown washcloth to use so that he wasn't seeing a big red stain
to freak him out. Some women's magazines will tell you to use a red washcloth,
but dark brown works better--with some kids, even the red of the washcloth will
set them off. Chris was definitely one of those--every time he took another look at
his wound, he freaked out. Despite the camoflage of the colored washcloth, Chris was screaming
to high heaven, and the first aid just wasn't happening. Then I had a brainstorm.
You know how you bite your lip or dig your nails into your palms when trying
to ignore a hurt (like a shot)? That works because you can't focus on two hurt
places at once. So I grabbed Chris' big toe (on the uninjured leg) and squeezed.
Predictably, he cried, "Ow, let go of my toe!"
I cackled and acted like a villain from a melodrama:
"Bwah, ha, ha, I've got your toe, and you can't get it back!" as I continued to
squeeze the toe, pulling it a little and wiggling it back and forth. Fortunately
Chris' dad was a quick study and realized exactly what I was doing. While I was
acting like an idiot with the toe, his dad was quickly and quietly cleaning the
wounds. I was having to fend off Chris's baby brother and sister, who couldn't
understand why I was "torturing" their brother. The older sister, sitting by his
head, was watching closely and had figured out what we were doing. She was trying
hard not to laugh as she held the bowl of water and handed bactine and bandages
to her dad. When dad was done, he gave me a nod and I released the toe.
Chris immediately grabbed his foot, to check that his toe was okay, and started
ranting at me, joined by Bobby and Anne. His dad and I burst out laughing. Then
we let their sister Renee explain what was going on. Chris looked down amazed at his
now bandaged knee and realized that it had been cleaned, sprayed with bactine
and bandaged while he was arguing with me over his toe. He had totally forgotten
the injury during the mock battle. Renee was clever enough to hide the bowl of
bloody water, so there was nothing else to set him off. After a few more grumbles
about his toe, he saw the humor and started laughing himself. We came to refer
to it as "the battle of the wounded knee" and I was known for a while as the "Toe Bandit".
Fantastic and funny!