It was a usual Saturday morning. I was washing dishes and getting ready for the day, Citlalli was watching a Winnie the Pooh DVD, all was quiet and well.
I had just put our cat Orange Kitty (yes, that's his name) out to avoid further well intentioned harassment from aforementioned 3 year old. He was being quite a good sport allowing himself to get put into a paper bag, wrapped in a baby blanket, and lined up with Elmo and Piglet. I could tell that he'd reached his peak so I opened the door and let him slip onto the patio, despite protests from my daughter.
I returned to the kitchen to hear Citlalli complain loudly that something was stuck.
"What's wrong, mija?"
"Well, it's stuck Mommy."
"What's stuck, little mama?"
"Well, my finger is stuck."
Her lack of verbage and vocabulary kept her from fully explaining the gravity of the situation. I didn't even realize there was a problem until I saw her pinkie finger stuck in the eyehole of a plastic kaleidoscope.
"Oh, you poor thing", I muttered as I grabbed her finger. I thought this would be like taking a rubber band off or something, an easy task. Simultaneously my mind was 30 minutes ahead of the moment making plans for an errand I needed to run.
I pulled on the green kaleidoscope, a 2 inch long plastic party favor we got at somebody's birthday, and realized that this thing was STUCK. Really STUCK.
Crap, I said silently to myself.
"No worries little Starshine, Mommy's got it all figured out."
Oh yeah? No way. I didn't know what to do. This thing was so stuck, and through the plastic lens I could see her little finger in there, wondering if any circulation was getting through.
I tugged gently.
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! That hurts!"
OK, so much for gentle tugging.
"Sweetie, we need to put something on it so it will come off. Let's go run it under the water."
Obligingly, my daughter followed me to the kitchen sink where I ran the tap to no avail. It was still stuck.
Not wanting any pain and hoping for a miracle, my daughter started what would be the first of many "It's OK, Mama. I'll be alright. Leave it alone."
"No, no, no mija. We've got to get that thing off." With that, I opened up the cupboard and pulled out a bottle of cooking oil. "It'll fall off in no time, just don't worry, Mommy has it all figured out!"
So I poured oil all over it, tried to maneuver it off yet again, and once more nothing happened.
Oh yeah, something did happen. My kid screamed louder and the cries became blood curdling.
"It's OK, Mama! I'll be alright! Leave it alone!", she wailed.
I got on the phone and called my husband.
"Hey, you need to get home right now. We have a serious emergency!"
My thought ran to tools. OK, what can I use? All I could think of were my needle nosed pliers. We'd just used them the other night making bead strung bookmarks.
But I can't use pliers with only her and I. I needed my husband there too. What else could I use that would help it get out?
Ah ha! I had the perfect solution: PREPARATION H!
It's an ointment so it will help it ease out, AND (miracle of miracles) it reduces swelling! I am such a genius, I thought to myself. This is going to be one great story to share down the road.
I got the tube of Prep H from the bathroom and as soon as I opened the cap, she resisted terribly. Perhaps it was the smell, which by the way comes from Shark Liver Oil, a main ingredient. (I had no idea Preparation H was an animal product. I don't know what you vegans are going to do, but let's save that for another post. We have a damsel in distress to rescue)
"It's OK, Mama! I'll be alright! Leave it alone!"
"Please, let Mommy help you. It'll be FINE." I so wanted to be telling the truth at this point, but honestly I kept thinking we'd end up in the emergency room.
OK, great ideas come and go. It would have been a great story had the stinky ointment worked. Like the water and the cooking oil, it didn't even help budge it. By now this thing had been on her hand nearly 30 minutes and I was getting concerned it would cause greater harm. I glared at the clock wondering what was taking my husband so long.
30 minutes of trial and error, taking breaks to comfort her, and utter frustration passed.
Finally Paco came home. He wasn't too happy about things. He was wondering why she was playing with a toy that her finger could get stuck in.
This annoyed me to no extent. "Now is not the time to discuss that! Can you please just help us?" (Can I post a male bashing aside here and just say isn't it sooooooooooo typical of men to bring up such irrelevant issues? Hindsight! Drives me crazy. Blame the victim, blame me. That's great.)
Before my mind could escalate the situation and start bringing up other things that annoyed me, we both agreed he should get some pliers.
My needle nose pliers were a joke. He looked at me with such astonishment, like I was about to use a spray bottle to spritz out a forest fire. (OK, I'm an experiential learner! I had to try it.) Paco ran to the big toolbox and pulled out some serious home repair type pliers.
Citlalli was screaming by this point, perhaps self conscious that a moment of child's curiosity had resulted in such an ordeal, coupled with the discomfort of having her finger stuck in a plastic toy for half an hour.
Paco carefully fitted the pliers over the toy. I wanted to tell him that I think he should position the pliers a bit higher, but I already knew that I was better off keeping quiet. Last thing we needed was an argument about where the pliers should g, not to mention that I was 0 for 4 in the solutions department.
I was afraid her finger would get snapped off in the process. The pliers looked so forboding...
I held tight to her and whispered soothing words in her ear.
Taking a breath in...
The kaleidoscope was off.
Her finger was cut from the eyehole rubbing against it, throbbing somewhat, but otherwise OK.
"Whew!" we breathed sighs of relief.
Paco put the pliers away, still annoyed (I could tell by the way he did it) that this whole thing happened anyway.
The Bounceback Kid was fine within 30 seconds and asked if she could have a Hello Kitty "boo-boo tape" (bandaid) to make it all better.
And that was that.
My creative juices were called upon in an emergency.
Here is one key lesson: if you're creative, your great ideas can only get you closer to safety. Add a bit of craftiness (like having pliers handy!) and you just may make it out of a disaster with all your limbs intact.