swimming lessons

Tough guy lessons

We were at a friend’s house for a birthday party. It was warm and wonderful, with wild packs of children ranging from the front to the back yard, copious amounts of good food, and friends I love dearly. I sat on the couch next to Clay, finishing up my burrito, when there came from the other room a THUNK, and then Raphael screaming with a pitch that caused everyone in the room to catch their breaths and turn.

A light saber had been propping a window open, and when he tugged it free, the window fell solidly on his thumb. The thumb was already turning purple, and he wouldn’t move it. He shrieked and clung to me.

So. Off to the emergency room with us. Mom and Dad stayed behind with Max and Tre while Clay and I took Raphi. Clay offered to carry him to the van, but he jerked away from his hands, moaning,
”No! MAMA.”

I carried him, strapped him in his car seat, and set his hand on a baggie of ice. He didn’t like the ice, declared that it was too “spicy” for his hand, but he consented. Once we were on the road he calmed down, and right after that he fell asleep. I watched him in the rearview mirror while Clay drove. He patted my leg.

“He’s ok, you know.”

“I know.”

“He really is.”

“I know. I think it’s broken.”

“Maybe. He’s still ok.”

“I know.”

We pulled up at the ER, and I carried him in, a sleepy drape of child in my arms. At the desk I was presented with paperwork, and I said to Raphi,

“Ok, do you want to stand up, or do you want Clay to hold you?” He scowled, then nodded at Clay. I handed him over, then turned to the paperwork. A few minutes later I turned back, to see them playing in the waiting room. Raphael was inspecting a table with small cars on it. He leaned over, inadvertently putting weight on his injured hand. He winced.

“Ouch.” He muttered matter-of-factly. Clay shook his head.

“Hurts, huh, buddy?” Raphi nodded. “Yeah, but look at you! You’re not letting it stop you are you? You’re one tough kid, you know that?” He inspected his wound for a moment, thoughtful, then looked back at Clay and grinned. “That’s right; you’re a brave boy, Raphael.”

“Ah am a brave boy.”

I watched from the sidelines. He’s hurt, I wanted to snap, don’t encourage him to move around, for crying out loud! Sit down! Read him a book! Keep him safe!

Oh, but if Clay is in my life, he’s in the boys’ lives. And he’s not going to stop being a man around them. So they will learn to be men too. I hate to admit it, but part of me cringes at that thought. If he teaches my baby to be a man, then who will be my baby?

But I watched my Raphi, my baby, lean against Clay’s side, and sigh. He was proud, and certainly tougher than I want to believe. Clay leaned over and planted a very manly kiss on his head, and he smiled up at him with joy.

Yes, it was good.

It turned out that Raphael’s thumb was fine. As the doctor said, their bones are very rubbery at this age, and can just sort of squish and then bounce back. I’m not certain that’s the exact medical terminology, but it’s what she said. He’s sore, and sporting a very impressive bandage (or at least he DID until he peeled it off in irritation), and he walked out of that ER with a certain swagger that I know he didn’t learn from me.

Click below if you want to see a picture of one tough little guy.

That's my baby.




he is a tough cookie, no doubt about it. just look at the steely gaze in those big brown eyes! you can't help hurting with them though, no matter how big they get.
speedy healing, raphi!


A very brave boy, and a very, very brave mama. How do you learn to share your kids? (who are most beautiful, I must say :-)


Ouch! So glad it wasn't broken. You're one brave bunch, if you ask me.

Heather McCutcheon

OMG. How can we be going through the exact same things, Kira! My son is almost 4 and tough guy lessons seem to be a weekly thing.


Oh my. He looks like a tiny Oscar de la Hoya. Look out, Kira.

Glad he's ok. He's beautiful.


re: "tiny Oscar de la Hoya" Lord have mercy!


Oh, owie owie owie!
You have a real treasure in Clay. Grandpa is a good male role model for your boys, but he is still 'Grandpa' after all....but Clay is....well, you know.
Thank you for sharing your journey.


Angela Giles Klocke

Oh my...wow...thank you for giving us fair warning before seeing that intimidating tough guy... Glad he's OK!

Mary Jo

Aww he is such a cutie!


Sowwy your little man got hurt. This post just melts my heart.


Beautiful anecdote and what beautiful eyes does your boy have!


I'm glad that everyone enjoyed this picture of Raphi, because I'm sorry to report that after I saw it, I hopped the next plane to Colorado and swallowed him whole.


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