I once heard a mother say that looking after boys is easy – you just need to know if it’s serious enough to go to ER. Littler Boy is a walking (or tripping, falling or stumbling) specimen to be held up as a prime piece of evidence here. And I do often find myself holding him up, generally after he’s just lurched into something.
Littler is a natural adventurer. Lots of two year olds are, but I can tell he has a particularly strong streak of daredevil in him by the way he assesses anything over three feet tall for its climbing potential. While the rest of the family walks down the street admiring Brooklyn brownstones purely in architectural terms, Littler points to the four-storey frontages and says ‘how do I get up there?’ Just to clarify that he was actually thinking about scaling them, yesterday I asked him if he wanted to climb up the facade he was pointing to. ‘Yes, I do,’ came the reply. ‘We don’t usually climb up buildings unless we’re repairing them or we’re window cleaners,’ I said. ‘Oh, maybe I just need a really long ladder then,’ said Littler, with uncharacteristic consideration for safety.
Littler’s exploits have landed us in ER three times over the past nine months. To be fair, he was not doing anything overly ambitious on any occasion, so maybe he’s just a bit dim. He fell against a coffee table and ended up with a gash on his eyebrow and then three weeks later ploughed into a metal door on the Staten Island ferry and split his lip. Then, a couple of weeks ago, just as I was sitting down to my Mothers’ Day scrambled eggs and toast, Littler decided to give me a lesson in what motherhood is all about (i.e. sacrificing anything you might be doing for more than thirty seconds for your own personal happiness in order for your child to have your full attention) by walking into the dining table and cutting his cheek. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was a stitch job, so I spent the rest of the morning in ER with him.
I was glad to get back home with my newly sewn-up son, and, vowing to keep a better eye on him and blaming myself for thinking he could do a simple thing like walk round the kitchen unsupervised, I relaxed in the assumption that we wouldn’t see another doctor for a while. Another lesson in motherhood: don’t assume anything. Twenty-four hours later and there we were in the doctor’s surgery with Littler and a nostril full of pumpkin seeds. Of course: he gets me on high alert for sharp and protruding objects, then decides he’d like to experiment with stuffing food up his nose. And it would have to be some right-on wholesome snack, of course – I don’t know whether I was more embarrassed that I hadn’t seen my son do the deed or that it wasn’t fragments of Oreo cookies with which he was doing it. Having managed to extract four seeds with my fingernail and then tried numerous ways of coaxing out the remaining ones (tickling his nostrils with a feather, asking him to blow his nose, putting my mouth over his nose and sucking), I had to phone the doctor and ask for advice. And so it was that for the second day running I found myself holding down a screaming child’s head while a medical professional poked around his face. The doctor tweezered out two more pumpkin seeds from the nostril that had already produced four and said she thought the other nostril was clear. Off we went, yet another lollipop in hand as consolation (at least they don’t fit up two-year old noses). That evening, as Littler sat in the bath and sneezed, we greeted the seventh and final pumpkin seed as it finally emerged from its resting place.