Here’s my little Mack. Many of you know him well. He’s smart, and funny, and creative, and intense. And he thinks he is big enough to own sharp knives.
This is how his birthday list reads: “Pocket knife, bb gun, paint set, fishing tackle, and a set of x-acto knives like Mom’s.”
He discovered my handy little set of super-sharp x-acto knives in my art desk drawer yesterday. Now he wants his own set more than anything. In his imagination, he sees himself, pocket full of knives, able to do any manly task that involves cutting. In my mind’s eye, I can see sharp gashes on his fingers or his little hand, a trail of blood, wailing and stricken faces, and a trip to the emergency room. I’ve been down this road before, being mama of four boys that anybody would define as being “All-Boy.”
To wit: We gave Matthew (our oldest) a new pocket knife (he also intensely wanted one) and a pair of jeans for his birthday (I think maybe his 8th) and he promptly put on his new jeans, went outside and cut a gash in the jeans and in his thigh with his new knife.
Perhaps you’ve read about Andrew (our second-oldest) and his inventive and prone-to-being-rushed-to-the-emergency-room-with-a-head-wound-nature on this blog, in fact right here. We had to take him to get stitches so many times that the emergency room staff had started to question us . . . “Were there any witnesses to this event . . . ?” (As if I would intentionally harm a single hair of any of my children’s heads . . . pshaw!)
Not to be outdone, third son Timothy (the one with a penchant for climbing anything that’s high enough to ensure a nosebleed if you get to the top, and there are some dandy photos of him doing just this right here) has had his share of scrapes and stitches, including many levels of stitches in one of his fingers, through many layers of his precious self: a result of a careless moment with a hand saw. And he is not a careless boy. Accidents happen all the time.
“These things happen,” I say to my little Mack, “even if you’re careful,” but he is persistent and continues to ask for sharp and dangerous things. The day he asked me if he could have his own set of x-acto knives, his brother Timothy sat down with him and showed him how to use them, and then watched him pain-stakingly cut out cartoons from the newspaper with my super-sharp x-acto knives. That satisifed my little boy for that day, and no blood or gashes or ER resulted.
But what’s a mama to do? I’d like to just wrap this precious youngest child of mine in bubble wrap and not see him ever get hurt or sick or disappointed or sad. But life is just not that easy, and it wouldn’t be good for him, anyway. He’ll probably receive something sharp for his birthday, and it will make him very happy and there is bound to be blood because of it, but I’ll be there to kiss it and wrap it up and he’ll learn to be more careful from the experience. It’ll be okay. He’ll be okay.
I’m just not sure if I’ll be okay. I’m still wishing I just had a little more bubble wrap.
- Snippets: while waiting for the Big Storm to arrive
- A note about raising boys