Anna Bradfield Writes

Discovering the extraordinary in everyday life

Slivers and Splinters, Thistles and Thorns

Okay, so my son is probably going kill me for telling this story. But isn’t telling embarrassing stories about her kids a mother’s rite of passage?

Anyway, Jason was about 10 years old and had asked to go to the skateboard park in town.

Neither my daughter nor I possessed any of the physical prowess required of such a feat as skateboarding. But Jason was pretty good, given his limited experience. Most importantly, he didn’t let a fall stop him. He would just get back up, disregard his bruised ego, and jump on the board again.

Imagine the family car parked at the curb next to the skateboard park, Amber and I sitting in the front seat and scanning magazines and homework while we waited on Skateboard King to finish with his antics. I had planned to let him enjoy the park for an hour or so before launching the typical parental petitions that it was time to leave.

About five minutes into his time, I heard the back door open accompanied by Jason’s voice.

“Let’s go.”

“What?!? What are you talking about? We just got here.”

“Let’s go.”

“You’re tired already? Did you fall or something? Is someone giving you a hard time?”

“Mom, please. Let’s just go.”

“But why?

“I have a stick in my butt, okay? Now, can we go?”

I had to believe he was completely exaggerating but, as we sped home, Jason explained that he had fallen while taking a halfpipe. No big deal. He figured he’d slide down the ramp, get another start, and try again — this time with more force so that, if he fell, he’d fall forward and have his pads and helmet as protection.

Do I need to mention that the ramp was made of wood?

When he slid down, a piece of it broke off and lodged itself into his butt.

Okay, I don’t get it. How could this be? He’s wearing jeans.

I kept thinking he was teasing me or making something out of nothing. He wouldn’t sit down; instead, he laid himself prone, on the car’s back bench.

When we got home, my normally bouncing, full-of-energy, happy-go-lucky son walked gingerly up the front walk.

“I have to see it, Jason.”


“I have to, Honey. I think your mind is making it bigger than it really is. If I can take a look, maybe even remove the sliver–”

“It’s not a sliver, okay?!? It’s a piece of wood!”

“Okay, okay, okay,” I said, exasperated. “Let’s just take a look.”

Jason laid himself on his bed, much like he had rested in the car.

I noticed a hole in his jeans, about the size of a quarter. And in his sweat pants beneath the jeans. And in his thermals. And in his underwear. Yeah. Four layers. I didn’t know if he had dressed for the cold or for padding or if he just wanted to bulk up to look tougher to the other kids. Either way, I was beginning to see what he meant…definitely not a sliver.

I needed a better view. But as my hand hovered a couple of inches above the hole, he began wailing, pleading with me not to touch it.

Not like Jason. Not like Jason at all.

We had no choice but to load back into the car and head to the nearest after-hours urgent care center.

Jason was right. About 3″ of a 6″ piece of splintered board, with an end diameter of about 4 mm, had lodged itself along the fatty layers of my son’s backside. The doctor said it was good that we had come in and not tried to remove it ourselves. Even if we could have gotten it out, we were bound to leave fragments behind. As dirty as the wood was, infection would have followed.

So, after a few minutes’ prep with numbing shots, I heard the gelatinous, congealing sound of wood being pulled from flesh, just as it has gone in. Gross. But necessary.

I thought of this story because I recently had a piece of wood in my thumb. It wasn’t anywhere near the size of Jason’s. Maybe that was part of the problem.

I’m not even sure how the splinter ended up in my finger, but I literally had to hold it to a light to see it.

Well, I thought, I see something brown there…is that like a tiny freckle? Or…nope! Definitely a splinter. I could tell by the way it felt when I pushed on it...twwwaaannnggg.

I tried tweezers and drawing salve and pins. Soaking it did nothing. Amber tried to remove it. My husband offered to take his knife to it. Ummm…no….

After days of this teeny-tiny splinter altering everything I did and consuming my every thought, I timidly held my thumb out to John.

“Do what you have to do,” I said, looking away.

I wish I had accepted his help earlier. He was gentle. He talked me through it, speaking softly and with encouragement, describing each step before he took it because you know I didn’t dare look. In the end, I was so relieved. It was gone.

No, my reason for relaying these two events was not to make you feel squeamish. It was to make you think about those things in your life that don’t belong.

  • the self-deprecation
  • the hurts and regrets of the past
  • those fears that you can’t even bring yourself to talk about
  • the feelings of insignificance, of ineffectiveness

They’re foreign fragments that will do nothing but poison you and distract you from living. No matter how big or how small, you’ll eventually have to deal with these thistles and thorns that have lodged themselves within your spirit. Take it from me. Sooner is better.

Your Inspiration Prompt: Until next time, tell us about a time that the seemingly insignificant stopped you in your tracks.

Share your thoughts in the Comments section.

photo credit: <a href=”″>Old saguaro.</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>


About Anna Bradfield

Anna Bradfield has been spinning tales, exaggerating the truth, and flat-out lying almost as long as she could talk. Nowadays, though, she calls it fiction. Buy her ebooks, Hey Grampa! or Barnyard Babies today. Join the online community and receive a free copy of her ebook, Boy Crazy.

2 Replies

  1. Terry DB

    The title of this piece deserves an award all by itself!! wonderful…..

  2. Carolyn Koster Yost

    This is so good because it’s honest and humorous. Makes the point stick.

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