Lord, Open My Eyes.

My five-year-old granddaughter, Emma, was spending a much-anticipated weekend at our house.  We had plans for a full Saturday together! We would begin with breakfast out, then visit the library, do some shopping afterwards, and finish the day with a manicure – all the works! We were anxious to get an early start on our “All Girl’s Day”!

As we headed into our favorite diner, I asked Emma how she was doing.

“Fine, grandma, except that my toe hurts where I suck it.”

Now, several of my grandchildren are double-jointed so the fact that she was able to suck her toe didn’t really surprise me. Unfortunately, in the momentary distraction, I missed the most important part of her answer – the word “hurt”. It was only after two more complaints that I considered there might be a real problem and decided to give Emma’s toe a good look.

Oh my! There it was in all its red and swollen glory. Shopping was clearly not going to happen, but I thought we might still try browsing for some good books to borrow. After limping through the library, we went home to soak this casualty in Epsom salts.

An hour’s soak didn’t do much, though, as the toe was now the bluish-red color of a large Christmas tree light bulb and just as warm. I figured this was a bad sign and it was time to seek medical attention.

Thirty minutes later, in the Urgent Care facility, the doctor seemed perplexed as to how Emma could suck her toe long enough to cause an infection. A thumb, maybe, but a toe? I guess the difference between a toe and a thumb isn’t so significant when you can bend like a pretzel!

Emma hardly blinked an eye as the doctor removed two hypodermic needles of ugly, green stuff from her bulging toe. After wrapping her foot, the doctor, giving Papa and I a wink, prescribed antibiotics and ice cream. He told Emma she was a lovely and brave young lady but encouraged her to stop her habit of toe-sucking.

Looking back on our adventure, I realize how easy it had been to see the behavior (toe sucking) but miss the deeper issue (an infection).  Emma is now nearing her teens and if I want to help her when she is struggling to navigate these challenging years, I need to recognize the deeper issues that lie behind her words, feelings, and actions.  Lord, open my eyes. 

Carol Richard is the grandmother of thirteen, ranging from ages twenty-two to eighteen months. Carol lives in the Lansing area.

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