I remember several years ago when our son fell on his head. He ripped part of the cartilage on the top of his right ear… and started screaming the rest of his head off as a result. We took him down to the hospital while our hands and a towel clasped his ear and his screaming head together. We went into the emergency room… and the nurses quickly took this screaming kid into a room and put him onto a table. He did not want to be there… and he let all of us know it. Kicking! Hitting! Screaming!!!!! "Don’t touch me!" "You’re hurting me!!" Even at three years old, our petite little guy took two parents, two nurses, a doctor, and some tightly wrapped blankets to hold him down. While I pressed his head against the table and one of the nurses practically laid on his body, he screamed and yelled and fought against us.
I can completely understand why he screamed. His ear hurt. But even more than that… now his own parents, whom he trusted, were hurting him more. Now in the moment of his trouble, we had gathered strange people around him and we had begun to restrain him! How dare his parents, who he thought loved him… how dare his parents treat him so uncaringly! How dare they heap misery on his misery!
At the height of his forcible and audible resistence, my son saw the needle and thread in the doctor’s hands. He saw that needle come closer and closer to his ear- which already hurt! And then the doctor took the needle and the stitch, grabbed the torn piece of his ear, and made the first pop through the cartilage!
AAAHHHHHWWWW!!!!!! said my cute little boy- rage burning across his face. Red streaks and laser beams burned from his eyes! His panic and anger and fear spoke volumes to his mom and dad, who by now were crying too. We understood the uncertainty of our little child, who was asking in his soul, "How could you do this to me when I’m hurting so much!?!"
"Pop!" went the needle a few more times. Each time more screams… and almost fainting fatigue from our boy. He couldn’t stand this torment much longer! What is life? Why such hardship upon hardship? What did I do to deserve this? Don’t my parents care for me? What’s to come next? Maybe I’m projecting- as I’m prone to do sometimes- but to me, these seemed to be questions my three-old-son was asking when he screamed YYYYAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!???!!!!
Finally, the doctor made his last pop. He then pulled the stitches tight. Our son made one last scream and then nearly collapsed. In fact, he would have collapsed if he had not been held by five grown-ups and a tightly wound blanket. His red swollen ear was now in one piece… and my son forced himself into a calmer breathing… almost gulping for air in between the sobs. Tears pooled on his face… pain gathered in his eyes… comprehension was somewhere else at the moment. The look he gave me said it all: "Why, Dad, why?"
Today, five years later, you can’t even notice a scar on his ear. The doctor, the nurses, the parents and the tightly wound restraints… er…blankets did their job. He didn’t understand the hurt we forced on top of his pain that day. But today… he honestly can’t even remember the pain… or the blankets… or the several hundred pounds of effort it took to hold down his three-year-old body. He does, however, remember that his mom and dad absolutely love him desperately and would do absolutely anything to care for him… even to the point of having him go through some extra hurt to find healing.
(Thanks to my friend Tim Charlebois for letting me use his drawing!)