Winging it

By Mir
November 16, 2011

There’s so much more I want to say about yesterday’s post, about this situation in specific and our society’s willingness to explain away predatory and aggressive behavior as something else, surely, he didn’t MEAN it that way and he would NEVER and by the way, what exactly was she wearing, hmmmm? But that will become a rant that never ends, in general; and in specific, I have pledged to sit on my hands until a satisfactory resolution is reached.

[I shared some of your comments here and from over on Off Our Chests with Chickie, by the way, and she was really surprised, I think, by the outpouring of support. (Which is a whole ‘nother level of sad to this whole thing, but…) Thank you so much.]

I may have had a hubris-filled moment, in the last few days, when I said to Otto SHE IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE EASY ONE. He may still be laughing at me.

And I probably deserve it.

This morning Monkey shuffled downstairs, all bedhead and yawns, to present me with his hand and some extreme indignation.

“I have a SPLINTER,” he declared, peering at it suspiciously, as if a plank of wood had snuck into his room last night and attacked him while he slept.

I examined where he pointed and confirmed that he did, indeed. “Where’d you get that?” I asked.

“Probably from running my hand down the bannister,” he replied. When I suggested that the bannister at school probably wasn’t splintery he assured me that it absolutely was and they weren’t supposed to touch it. I… still don’t entirely understand Hippie School, but decided to let the matter drop.

On a different day, with the moon in a different phase or the weather a different temperature, a splinter in my youngest would be cause for wailing and gnashing of teeth and GET IT OUT and DON’T TOUCH ME. I don’t know if it was because he’d just woken up, or if it’s just a good day, but he was very calm about the whole thing, even after I led him into my bathroom and started digging at it with tweezers, without any success.

I gave up after about a minute. “You’re being very brave,” I told him, dropping a kiss on top of his head. “But we need to move to Plan B. Come on.” I led him back into the kitchen while he peppered me with questions about what we were doing and was I just going to leave the splinter there?

Our one and only shot glass (hail to the not-party people!) was just the right size, and I poured some salt in it and then filled it up with hot water. At my direction, Monkey sat down and plunked his affected finger in the glass. He wanted me to explain why we were doing it and I could only manage phrases like “it helps draw the gunk out” and “just trust me.”

Five minutes later, we pulled his finger out, and my tweezers still couldn’t get purchase of that little sliver, but when I gently squeezed, it popped right out onto my waiting fingertip.

“Whoa!” said Monkey. “That was so cool! It didn’t even HURT! How did you know that would work??” I muttered something about osmosis and wished I’d already made coffee.

The truth? I had no idea if it would work, and everything I know about salt water soaking being useful I learned when I still had a (frequently-infected) (you’re welcome!) belly button ring. I’m glad it worked, but if it hadn’t, not sure what my next step would’ve been.

He went off to school happy, my “hard” child who is sometimes, unexpectedly, perfectly easy. I got lucky, this time.

I don’t know what the final chapter will be on this school thing with Chickadee. I know that my husband sent the principal an email last night that literally made me cry, it was so measured and logical and yet FULL of protection and love and don’t-mess-with-my-cub emotion. I know that it feels like our little family has drawn a little bit closer, the last few days, and we’re all aware that what ends up happening may or may not feel like justice, but we have each others’ backs no matter what.

Still. If only I could pop out Chickadee’s current splinter like I did Monkey’s… that would be okay with me.


  1. Katie in MA

    Have you tried dousing the offender with salt water? Maybe he’ll be all, “I’m melting! MELTING! What a world, what a world…” Wouldn’t that be nice? :)

    Also, if such an occasion again arises, try pouring some Elmer’s glue over the splinter site. I’m only about 50/50 on my results, but it never fails to amuse the childrens when I go all mad scientist on them.

  2. Lucinda

    I failed to say yesterday that while I do think Chickie is very lucky to have you to call, I also think Chickie was very brave to call. The pressure at that age to lay low can be so great. By calling you, she was choosing to stand out and that takes great courage. She is also doing a great service for every other girl who has been harassed by standing up for herself and saying “this is not ok”. Please share that with her. I wish I had been that brave at her age.

  3. Liza

    My kids manage to get splinters in their feet all the time. From wood chips in their shoes. From the playground at school.

    Next time, I am salting their baths if I can’t get the splinter out right away.

    (Why did you use salt? Have you had enough coffee to answer that? I have made them soak the splinter, but only in regular water.)

  4. Bob

    You did not strike me as a person who would have a belly button ring. Well, then. Another illusion shattered.

    I hope Chickadee is okay. Thats a tough row to hoe.

  5. sassymonkey

    What was she wearing? WHAT WAS SHE WEARING?

    Excuse me. I need to go smash something.

  6. dad

    Ya know, I have adhered to the belief for years that sometimes all you can do for your kids is cover their backs…and hope it’s enough.

    You’re doing a hell of a job.
    I am from out of state and available to break someones thumbs if you so desire.

  7. Arnebya

    The back having. It is absoultely essential (and just imagine how appreciative and confident she’ll be – forever – knowing her parents support her).

  8. Kelly

    You are a model of mama bears around…. I hope to be as brave and tough for my girls.

  9. Lori

    Mir, You sure picked a perfect partner in parenting with Otto. I did the same, went thru very rough years with my difficult child, on the other side now and it never changes. My hubby still has all our backs, even when they are grown with their own families.

  10. Scottsdale Girl

    I had to stop reading at the “what was she wearing” part

  11. diane

    I didn’t have a chance to comment in Chicky’s support yesterday because I was so overwhelmed and at a loss for words.
    But I do want to add to the stories and support. When I was in junior high, there was a boy who sat behind me in history class who would bother me by whispering VERY NASTY things into my ear all the time. When I told him to leave me alone, I would get in trouble for talking.
    I don’t know why I never told anyone. It is horrifying and yet unsurprising to me that so many commenters had similar stories to share.
    THANK YOU for supporting your daughter this way. I’m so sorry it is even an issue, but I hope you and Chicky will truly be an inspiration to other young women who deal with this b.s. It’s not okay when you are 13, and it’s not okay when you’re a 50-something Senator, and it needs to STOP.

  12. Zilla

    Two things… 1. “What was she wearing”? makes me very angry and upset. I, too, want to smash something. 2. Why is there a bannister if you can’t touch it?

  13. Crisanne

    Sadly, society will never be perfect. Chickie is learning that no matter what she might have said to you and Otto that morning/last week/whenever, you really will be there for her no matter what. It’s a simultaneously awful and wonderful lesson to learn.

  14. jwg

    I like the pour hot salt water offender and maybe he’ll melt approach. As for splinters, one of the few useful things i learned about parenting from my mother is that as soon as the kid is old and coordinated enough give her some ice, tweezers and a sterile needle and let her dig away. Somehow it hurts less and there is less hysterics. Worked with my kids.

  15. Amy

    I didn’t get to share yesterday either…time just got away from me.

    On my first day of 7th grade (which was also my first day of high school…small town high school was 7th – 12th), a boy that I didn’t even know grabbed my backside as I walked into P.E. Seeing as how I am a pistol and won’t be undeterred, I walked right over to the boy’s P.E. teacher and told on the boy, and he was subsequently paddled and sent to ISS. And you know what, I didn’t get bullied about it the first time. And that was only like 15 years ago.

    Fast forward ten years, and my best friend in college was sexually assaulted on a date…by a boy she met in church. The boy was very involved in the youth ministry at the church. She reported the incident to the police. When the folks at church found out she was shunned because this boy who was such an integral part of the church would “never do anything like that”. Also, the police eventually convinced her that she didn’t want to go to court because she was wearing black underwear when it happened and that the boy’s lawyer would make things worse on her so she dropped the charges. And yes, you read that right. Black underwear. How sad is that? She eventually healed from the whole thing happening, but she definitely was bullied about it on several fronts which did make the healing harder.

    You and Chickie take a stand. We’re all here standing behind you. We’re tired of women being blamed for being victims of sexual assault/rape/etc. This is exactly the mindset that has to change. And it has to start when kids are Chickie’s age. This kid’s behavior can’t just be passed over as “boys will be boys”. You guys are doing the right thing!!

    Also, this completely made me think of this…

  16. My Kids Mom

    I’m sitting at my desk trying to picture you soaking your belly button in a shot glass of salt water. Not happening.

  17. Karen

    I also was subject to some harassment in school, but it was met with the ol ‘boys will be boys’. It’s a bit damaging to my psyche so it’s lovely what you’re doing right now.

    My method of dealing with splinters is to cover the area with tape and pull the tape off in the direction that the splinter went in. Works like a charm because you never have to grapple with the limited amount of leverage you have against the splint with the tweezer.

  18. Anna

    Your dad made me cry. Seriously, that’s all we get? Think I can shove all four kids back into my uterus? Yeah, probably not.

  19. Ethena

    lol @ana
    Your post makes me wonder what’ll happen once my own monkey reaches that age :) he is only 2 yet and a big handsful

  20. RuthWells

    Wait, BELLY RING?

  21. Erin

    I’m with Jill (My Kids Mom), I’m still stuck on you with a shot glass of salt water for your infected belly button ring.

    And the cognitive dissonance of You, Lovely Mir, with a belly button ring.

    I hate, absolutely HATE, that we all have stories like this. Seriously. What. The. Hell.?! Why is it that women in our society are revered as mothers and yet treated as sexual chew-toys for men AT THE SAME FRIGGING TIME?!?!

    I … could go on, but I’ll stop. Chicky is incredibly lucky to have you and Otto at her back. I can only hope that when* my girls have a problem at school, I can have their backs and not still be over in the corner going “hamina hamina hamina.”

    * It sucks completely that I know my kids will have to deal with this stuff. That this is a When thing, not an If thing. Also, a little incident from last year springs readily to mind. Wherein my daughter came home from KINDERGARTEN, crying because a kid on her bus (where they are seated by grade, with the older kids in the back and the younger ones up front) had been grabbing her butt and talking to her about the quality thereof. This was a KINDERGARTENER sexually harrassing MY KINDERGARTENER. And this was mere days after she came off the bus reporting of a couple boys who were comparing and … smelling each other’s parts. I was on the phone with that bus driver so fast, you wouldn’t even believe it. And we had a long talk about bodies and parts and who should be touching her parts and/or talking about them and how to react if someone were ever to do something like that ever ever ever again. But OY. She was FIVE.

    … I think I might have exceeded my capital letter quota for one comment. Sorry.

  22. Kati

    I’ve dealt with this type of stuff, both as a parent and as a teacher. When presented with the “boys will be boys” argument, I respond with “People don’t grow *out* of habits, they grow *into* them.”

    It’s also important to note that, if this happened off campus, it would be deemed a crime. As in arrest. As in court date, restraining orders, and possible jail time. And that the local press just loves to hear about stories of administration that does nothing to protect the bullied.

    Yeah, I’m a bit of a hardass when it comes to my kids.

  23. Mandy

    I’m with Kati – and your dad. Though I don’t think he should just stop with the thumbs.

  24. elz

    I wish I could send Ted Nugent husband b/c no WAy no how would anyone mess with Chickie after seeing him and his 50 million guns! Good luck.

  25. mamaspeak

    Erin – you did not use up your CAPS & Kati-not a hardass. The problem is that more of us need to be “hardassed” about this, or it won’t go away.

    I want to TAKE NAMES & KISS ASS NOW! I’m beyond pissed. There are too many of us, who have these stories. Way too many!

  26. Karen

    MIR had a BELLY RING????……….

    I am so sorry Chickadee has had such a miserable encounter. Hopefully the school will do the right thing and the offender will learn he can’t behave in such an awful way.

    And.. ummm.. a railing that splinters? In a School? Don’t touch it????…..

  27. Megan

    Just now coming to this [geez, leave for a day and the world goes MAD] but I am so down-to-my-boots impressed with Chickie for TELLING. I never did and I regret that to this day – not so much for me, because I know how I am and what happened there and that I’m okay, but for any other girl he might have approached in the same way – or more seriously. I don’t know that THEY’RE okay and that still haunts me.

    She stood up for herself and for all those other vulnerable kids too and that is fantastic.

    Have to think that a lot of that courage comes from knowing there are some seriously supportive parental bears with teeth and claws all ready to take action!

  28. Brigitte

    Just: Grrrr! My rage is too incoherent to offer any better support . .

    My little girlie has always done the flailing and screaming for splinters, with the demands that we somehow immediately remove it without touching it. I’ve been lucky and they’ve always worked themselves out after a few days, but maybe she’s getting old enough to try digging them out herself, I’ll have to try that method!

  29. Aimee

    PLEASE tell me that nobody at or affiliated with Chickie’s school actually said ANYTHING about what she was wearing! Because WOW, I thought I was mad before. Now I am at HULK ANGRY, HULK SMASH levels, because what the hell is that???

  30. kapgaf

    I so hope that a satisfactory resolution is reached but you know that, if it isn’t, you will have all of us giving you and Chickie our support to take it further.
    The Most Effective Sexual Assault Prevention Plan that Maggie linked exactly right : let’s stop blaming the victim!

  31. Ann Garniss

    I think I must have been a tiny little bitch, because when the boys bugged me, I either told a teacher, with a sugar wouldn’t melt in my mouth look on my face and a by the way remember my daddy is a school board trustee glint in my eye, or I punched them myself.

    Bullying by girls on the other hand… still recovering from that.

  32. Dorothy

    I have a 44 year old son and three grandsons. I raised one grandson. One thing I attempted to get through to them is that girls grow up to be women and their reputations would follow them into adulthood. The young girl who would be harrassed could be their sister, cousin, mother or girlfriend. Would that be okay with them? I never heard any complaints about any of them and since we live in a very small town I would have heard even false rumors. It starts at home to teach the males in our lives that they will someday have a wife, daughter, etc. How do they want them to be treated.

  33. StephLove

    My daughter had (okay has) a splinter today and I had high hopes for the salt water soak, but it didn’t work for us. I’m glad it did for you, though. Splinters are so distressing.

  34. Cam

    This is totally not the point of the post, but I thought you should know (for future Monkey skin-imbedded-incidents), that my mom used icthamol ointment (its nasty, tarry, black stuff that they only sell behind the counter at the drug store). But slap that gunk on and cover the trapped splinter/gravel/foreign object it with a bandaid overnight- and whatever is trapped under the skin is drawn out completely painlessly! Saved my family from MANY a needle-and-tweezer drama. Also works on those painful pimples that need the white head drawn to the surface.
    Never heard of the salt/hot water combo. Will keep that one for future use! And… I’m out of hygiene tricks.

    Hope the auction goes well, and Good On You for instilling such important values in your Chickie.

  35. All Adither

    I think you’re handling all this beautifully.

  36. Genevieve

    I agree with All Adither — you’ve got Chickie’s back, you’ve got her comfortable with coming and telling you, and you’re not letting matters lie where they are. You’re standing up for her, and teaching her that she deserves to be stood up for and to ask for help and protection.

    Such good parents.

  37. Tara

    Just in case it happens again, putting a baind aid on the splinter for awhile will also draw it to the surface of the skin.

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