How did we survive twelve or more years of schooling without being taught about the microscopic magnets inside the shinbone and the big toe? Even with my limited science background, I have deduced that these body parts are attracted to some sort of magnetic field surrounding sharp corners on furniture. We are warned not to run with scissors or eat paste, but none of that has helped me in life. I would have appreciated a warning about keeping a twenty-foot radius between my leg and the corner of the bed frame.
This week I injured myself on two different pieces of furniture. Feeling down about myself, I uttered the self-ascribed nickname “Clumsy Oaf” and then deliberated for a few minutes about what in the world an “oaf” is and why it is so much fun to say. After snapping back to reality, I realized that the problem does not really reside in me, but in the manufacturing companies. Furniture manuals give elaborate diagrams and details about the parts required for assembly. Not once have I seen parts labeled Toe Stubber and Shin Splitter. Hello, Freedom of Information Act, anyone?
I’m not exactly proud about how I handled the pain. As I was crying out and leaping in circles like a one-legged grasshopper in a circus act, I suddenly pictured Jesus on the cross. My histrionics came to a grinding halt when I realized he had remained silent even while his entire body was tortured.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers in silent, so he did not open his mouth.
In his brave endurance, Jesus left us some sage advice: Take it like a lamb.
This week was also my four-year-old Nate’s annual checkup, and he was due for a shot. If there is one thing I hate more than being in pain, it is seeing my children in pain. As he stood waiting for the nurse to arrive, he looked so small and vulnerable in his Spiderman underwear. All of his cuteness culminated in his protruding belly button, which I just wanted to beep like a car horn, but he had other plans. He called me over to his side and whispered in my ear.
“I’m concerned.” His blue eyes watered and swelled to the size of hard-boiled eggs.
It’s funny how people can condescend to children, when here was the perfect example of a man’s heart living in a little boy’s body. No need to patronize this guy.
“The shot is going to hurt,” I told him. “But it won’t hurt for long. I believe you can take it like a man.”
He nodded in agreement, as the nurse entered and prepared her portable torture chamber. She asked me to have him look away, but my post-40 reflexes must have taken over, and I couldn’t react in time. Oh, no. He’s going to scream. I braced myself for the worst.
The needle entered Nate’s arm, and he was completely still. I had witnessed the “calm before the storm” many times, the deafening silent scream which precedes the actual one. But this storm must have gone out to sea, because nothing happened. He just sat there and endured the pain without a sound or a tear.
Try as I might, I could not help but flash back to my earlier injuries and the ensuing circus acts. Here was my four-year-old, rubbing his Winnie the Pooh Band-Aid and grinning with pride at his bravery and fortitude.
“Mommy, I took it like a man!”
No, my dear. You took it like a lamb.