MM shows me his little sliver while I'm tucking him to bed last night. I say, "okay honey, let's go in the bathroom where the lighting is better and we'll pull it out". He says, "okay Mom". We headed into the bathroom and I try to remove the sliver with my fingernails since it is already part of the way out. No such luck, so we ask Braeden to bring us some tweezers. We try the tweezers and still can't seem to get a grip on the dang thing. At this point we have much squirming, some yelling (even before we touch it) and moaning. I finally sneak downstairs to get a pin. When I get back we try a few more times with tweezers, but he is definitely getting more agitated despite our reassurance that "Mom" has much experience with tweezers and Braeden shares stories to try and distract and calm him.
I start to explain that I think it will be easier to just slide a pin in next to the sliver and pull it out...TOTAL PANIC. I am talking instant sweating, tears, agitation beyond anything I've seen before! Out of his mouth pours a story of horror involving a previous sliver, a large knife, needle and an irrational birth father. The poor baby was scared to death of that tiny pin. Emotionally and physically his whole being reacted instantly just at the sight. We did our best to calm him, and through his unreal sweating and shaking quickly removed the sliver without further incident. The relief and letdown was immediate.
The amazing part of this, is that he did trust me (and Braeden) enough to let us continue, and actually said that "he knew we could fix it". However, it just shows how powerful a child's past hurts can be and how that can affect their whole little body. So many foster children are labeled with all kinds of different things. Mr. Man himself was labeled with a few that are complete hogwash! Things that truly would have made him seem "unadoptable" to some. The truth for many of these kids, is that they can't always control their reactions to a situation because their brain is telling them that they are in extreme danger due to past circumstances. I think it would do the world a whole lot of good if we would remember that when we are working with children, especially those that come from a broken past. We don't always know the past of a child we meet...but are so quick to judge an unusual or extreme behavior. Take the time to try and find out what is behind the strange actions with a kind word, caring look, or if appropriate soft touch and we just might be surprised how much healing and peace that could bring. Understanding and acceptance can go a long way. Once a person can process the pain and fear in a safe environment, I don't believe the next reaction to that type of situation will be so extreme.
I carried MM back to bed and carefully tucked his still quivering body in. He wrapped his arms around my neck, and said "I love you Mom" and explained again his "overreaction" to me. The sweet boy wanted to make sure that I wasn't mad at him for being scared. He healed another wound a little bit last night. The scar will always be there, but his gentle relieved cry and soft sigh when he rolled over, assured me that there was healing. God-willing, the next sliver will be a whole lot less scary.