Hayden runs to me as I come through the gate at his preschool. I scoop him up in my arms, treasuring the rare occasion that he is not running from me.
“I have something to show you!”
He takes me by the hand and leads me to his cubby where we find his lunchbox, show and tell bag, and an assortment of artwork.
Underneath it all are two small cups. The kind you find next to the water cooler at a doctor’s office. Inside the cups are teeny tiny shells.
“I found them in the ground! Look at this one! And this one!”
We share a moment admiring the little shells and head for the car.
We get in the car, buckle up, and run a couple of errands before we head home for rest time. As we are pulling out of the parking lot at our final stop, Hayden speaks from the back seat, “A shell is stuck in my ear.”
I bring my car to a screeching halt, throw it in park, and punch the button for the hazard lights. I nearly launch myself into the backseat while repeating, “No, no, no, no, no.”
This is what I find in his right ear.
My “No, no, no” quickly takes on a more panicked tone, interspersed with curse words and gibberish. Hayden starts to freak out a little and keeps trying to touch his ear. Getting a scared three year-old boy to keep still is not easy.
Fortunately, he had not pushed the shell any further into the ear canal. Although it almost matched the size of the opening in his ear, I managed to use what pathetic fingernails I have to work that little shell out of his ear.
Not him, me. I never should have let him hold those cups in the car.