Ever wondered what Androcles’s experience might have been if the lion were 2½ years old, pissed off, and sick? Perhaps I can shed some light.
Robert is not happy that I’m gone so much now. (I’m not all that happy about it either, frankly, but you don’t see me acting out by hurling sofa cushions hither and yon, do you?) My wife says he wakes up each morning, after I’ve left, and wanders around looking for me. He asks where I am, and my wife explains, and he seems to understand. But “No” and “I want” and “I don’t like” are frequently the first words out of his mouth, and he’s also taken to standing at his toybox and tossing its contents over his head, one by one, for no other reason than to raise someone’s hackles. It might just be the age, but I’m sure there’s a bit of separation anxiety percolating in his little brain pan.
And yes, he is also sick. It could be the change of seasons, it could be that he collided with some booger-faced tot, but he’s sniffling and coughing and not sleeping well. So the cranky meter is already on “simmer.”
Today, Robert and his friend had a tug-o’-war over a particular stick that each of them had to have—ignoring the dozens of similar sticks within a 20-foot radius—resulting in a splinter in his middle finger. So I came at him with the tweezers:
He: Hey, what are you doing?
Me: I need to take the splinter out of your finger.
He: No, because I am afraid because it will hurt.
Me: Don’t you want me to help you fix your boo-boo?
He: I don’t want you to do that because you’re not a real doctor.
He wouldn’t keep his hand still, so it became time to treat this patient as hostile. I sat cross-legged, wrapped my legs around his torso, pinned his other arm to his chest with my elbow, and set to work. Each little tweezer-pinch amped up the wailing and writhing until the operation’s end, when I felt a lot like I was threading a needle with my hand clamped in a paint-shaking machine.
And was there gratitude? Loyalty? Ha. The kid ran for his mama and wanted nothing to do with me. If he were the lion, he’d be flossing my entrails out of his fangs right about now.