This morning I woke up to my son running into my bedroom with a bloody thumb, scared, but not crying, and holding a Darth Vader Band-Aid. Something was wrong. He told me, with certainty, that he had banged his thumb on the wall. He was fibbing.
It took a few moments to realize that he had cut his thumb while trying to slice an apple. I should have known immediately, but it was six a.m. and I had had a restless night. I sliced an apple for myself as a snack before bed. It was an enormous Honeycrisp that we had picked the previous weekend right off the tree at an orchard in Michigan.
Apples that size can feed a family of six, so I left the remaining half on the counter thinking we would eat it in the morning. What I didn’t think was that the boy would wake up and get the idea to cut the apple himself. He’s six. Six year olds don’t use knives. Or do they? I don’t know.
I’m doing this whole raise a six year old for the first time here. Sometimes I think I limit him out of pure unknowingness. Other times I know I limit him out of pure ‘I don’t have time to teach you, so I will do it myself so we can get goingness.’ Sigh.
He had cut his hand once before while using scissors at his grandparents as a youngster. There was a lot more blood that time. I remember being unnaturally calm in those moments, especially seeing my son’s hand and arm covered with his own bright red blood.
This morning, even in my fumbling first moments of wakefulness, that calmness returned. It turned out the cut wasn’t so bad. Like a longer, deeper version of a paper cut. The kid was lucky. He could have done a lot more damage to himself.
As we sat in the bathroom together, washing his hand and applying a bit of pressure before the Band-Aid, I realized my boy was growing up. Six is an interesting mix of little and big. He tests his limits all the time. He asserts a growing need for independence. He is doing exactly as he should.
It honestly never would have occurred to me to teach him to use a knife properly. But he’s ready. It’s time. My boy is growing up. He knew it before I did.
We ended up, my boy and I, having a lovely heart to heart in the bathroom. I asked after why he felt the need to lie, telling me he had banged his thumb on the wall. I acknowledged that I thought he was ready to start using a knife himself, albeit, with adult supervision. We both agreed that as he got older he could take on more and more responsibilities.
And try as a might, I couldn’t stop myself from remarking that if he was old enough to learn how to use a knife, he was probably old enough to know to pick up his dirty laundry from the floor. What?! I saw an opportunity and jumped on it.
It is a beautiful thing to have a growing child, learning and pushing his limits. I am new to all this, so will take it as it comes. It seems we both have much to learn.