The Splinter Supremacy

Sometimes as a parent its hard to tell exactly which one of you is playing the other more effectively. Are you using all of your skills and experience as a grown up manipulative adult to pull the wool over the eyes of a tiny child and make them adhere to your will… Or are they using all of their adorableness and weird ability to suddenly construct rather adult sentences out of the blue, that you didn’t even know they had in their heads, to confuse you and knock you off your game.

My daughter had a splinter in her finger. In fact she had a small but more than adequate collection of splinters in her finger – About five of them all grouped together. She had returned home from the childminders with this new addition to one of her tiny digits, the childminder warning us that Sophie wouldn’t let her near the alien objects under any circumstances and wishing us luck.

Sophie was more than happy to show my wife the splinters, and then she was equally happy to show them to me too. Sometimes she seems to get that I can’t see things and will even put my hand on them, but then other times it seems to slip her mind – but that’s more than fair enough, she is only two years old after all and to be honest it always surprises me more when she does realise than when she doesn’t.

My wife Patricia tried to explain to Sophie how she would extract the splinters, but Sophie was having none of it and took her hand out of the jurisdiction of parental access with immediate effect. Offers were made of treats and biscuits and grapes but it appeared that bartering was not going to win over the cooperation of this defiant little girl.

The next morning Patricia tried again, but this was met with screams and tears that were very quickly becoming the dark and preferably avoidable realm of the toddler tantrum. I was recruited to do the bit that I usually do best, which is mainly silly faces, stupid voices, badly sung songs, and pretty much anything that I can think of to try an elicit a smile or a giggle and distract Sophie for just short enough for the medical operation to be completed without the need for general anaesthetic.

We failed miserably. Sophie headed off in to the living room slightly shaken by the whole experience, and we were left stood in her bedroom – failures as parents but just relieved that we had accepted our failures just in time to avoid a total and catastrophic meltdown.

A short while later and I found myself in the living room with Sophie and sat on the couch next to her. I thought that I would try a different more gentle approach than the two of us simply ganging up on her.

I explained to her that she had been playing in the garden at the childminders and got some little pieces of wood stuck in her finger, and that Mummy would have to take the little pieces of wood back out of her finger so that we could put them back in the garden.

This is of course one of those things that my wife would have to do, as not being able to see anything really would hamper the success of any attempts to locate and remove microscopic particles from a moving target. But I was doing well with the persuasive argument I thought, and Sophie seemed to be on board with this so far, so I continued…

“After all that’s where the little pieces of wood want to be” I said. ” and if you are a brave girl and let Mummy do that then maybe we can take you out to the book shop and buy you a new book as a present for being so brave. Maybe,” I added, Maybe there’s even a book about having a splinter in your finger that we can get for you.”

I finished and rested my case pretty much sure that I had had a monumental breakthrough.

Sophie paused for a moments contemplation on what I had proposed and then said “OK daddy, Yes. But first I watch Peppa Pig, and then I go to Gym Tots, and then we do the little pieces of woods in the garden. Later Daddy, later.”

I realised that was as far as I was really going to get so I said “ok sweetheart, later. After Peppa Pig and Gym Tots.”, and then I stood up to leave her to it, hoping that it sounded like that bit about the Peppa Pig was really my idea and not her’s.

She wasn’t done though, and just as I was getting up to leave – and with all of the intonation and composure of an adult talking to a child she added – “well done Daddy for talking to me”.

Well done Daddy for talking to me? – Was I just complemented on my own attempts at parenting by my own bloody two year-old? – Yes, well done Daddy for talking to me, and don’t worry, when I speak to Mummy later I’ll tell her you were very good and tried your best.

I walked away out of the living room with my tail between my legs, not entirely sure which one of us thought that they had just done the better job with the other, but having a fair idea that it was probably her. Yes it was definitely her wasn’t it.

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