Recently Charlie has been bringing little gifts for me that he found outside while playing. Usually it is a pretty rock or an acorn or a flower. He picks all kinds of flowers for me. At school he brings flowers in from the playground and puts them in his cubby, then proudly presents it to me when I arrive to pick him up.
"Here Mama! For you! It's so PRETTY! Smell it!"
It's very sweet. I love it. Even when he forces me to smell the rocks. I think he may think gift smelling (as opposed to flower smelling) is a social norm. It is probably best we are doing Christmas morning in the privacy of our own home.
He is so proud of himself, and I am so proud of his thoughtfulness and generosity (the kid loves acorns, for him to give one to me is like me giving you a kidney, or my first cup of coffee in the morning). All of these mutual warm fuzzy feelings make it awfully hard to be hard on him when I've asked him to get out of the flower beds at church for the fourteenth time, or to stay away from Miss Lisa's landscaping down the street.
Well today might have marked the end of my flower child's gifting.
We were at my parents' for lunch and Charlie and Wes and their cousin were having a blast running around the yard, jumping into piles of leaves, screaming happily, throwing rocks into a trough of water the deer drink out of, kissing each other (that was Charlie, he's a lover AND a fighter).
In the long established tradition of Mom being the no-fun saftey police, I stood there wringing my hands as Charlie came closer and closer to wiping out near my dad's metal boat trailer and said to my mom "This is going to end with screaming" then asked Charlie to find another place to play.
Not TWO SECONDS LATER I heard screaming.
It was Charlie and he was nowhere near the scalp-o-matic metal boat trailer of forehead stitches death.
My mom said "CACTUS!"
Charlie ran for me with his hand outstretched, a thousand tiny needles sticking out of his palm.
"TAPE! GET ME TAPE!!!" was the first thing I thought of. It looked like all the little needles could be pulled out with a piece of duct tape. Or I thought I'd heard something on TV one time about getting cactus needles out with tape.
Charlie howled deep wet sobs into my shoulder.
My mom's friend ran out onto the porch with a Scotch tape dispenser.
"POPSICLE!" I said. My mom grabbed a lime one out of the freezer and handed to Charlie who went from howling to hiccuping as he took it. He sat in my mom's lap fervently holding his fingers against Phent, waiting for the magic to make him feel better. Wondering why it wasn't working. It broke my heart.
And then I had to try and get the needles out with a pair of tweezers. My mom held Charlie, Ryan held the flashlight, I held his little hand as hard as I could bear but he was terrified of the tweezers and couldn't stop thrashing around screaming. I'd get one needle out, lose my grip, encourage him to eat his popsicle and calm down, then try again. We worked like this for a long time and I couldn't even get a quarter of the tiny needles out, but eventually he calmed down and finished his popsicle and then hopped down to play.
Later I walked by the cactus, which was a long skinny green soft-looking one, and saw a chunk of it lying on the driveway, the piece Charlie had picked to give to me.