It was a steaming hot weekday, the kind of day where I seriously wondered if I’d burn to death if I tripped while crossing the street. We had no air conditioning but I had a fan wafting tepid air through the living room and our patio doors were open.
Kait and Colin were sprawled in front of the television, lazily watching some children’s show while I scrolled through a parenting forum and kept my eye on the time. The kids were signed up for a library program and I was looking forward to the air conditioning.
That’s when it happened.
“Mooommmm… Colin has his finger stuck in my trinket box,” Kait informed me.
This was immediately followed by a thin, whining wail from Colin when he realized that, yes, his finger really was stuck.
I couldn’t figure out how he could have gotten anything stuck. The trinket box in question was a pretty gold filigreed box with velvet pillows inside and a cute little lid (complete with tassel). That question was answered quickly. Colin had removed the pillows, discovered a rubber stopper underneath, removed that, and then squished his finger through.
I gave his finger a gentle tug and realized it was quite thoroughly stuck. Even soap did nothing. I gave mental thanks that his three year old self hadn’t stuck his penis through and then moved back to figuring out how to get the box off. His finger was already swollen and a reddish purple.
The nearest hospital was the next town over, which meant two bus rides each way with sticky, hot children. But we did have a fire department diagonally across the street from us. Maybe they could help.
Sandals were slipped on quickly then I helped Colin blow his nose, thus answering where the rubber stopper went. We headed out the door, Colin snuggled into my arms, while staring at the box, and Kait skipped along beside me, holding my elbow.
“Don’t worry Colin,” she crooned. “The box will be fine, they’re just going to cut your finger off.”
Colin immediately burst into chest heaving sobs. Kait promptly followed when I explained that, no, they were going to cut off the box and not the finger.
I stood at the front of the building and had no idea where to go next. The big doors were open but I couldn’t see anyone inside. There was a smaller door but it was locked and the desk inside was empty.
“Hello?” I called hesitantly as I entered the big doors. Almost immediately someone popped out of a room. He was about my age, so not that old.
“What do you want?” he asked. I explained the situation and he decided it was a case for the chief. Within 3 minutes we had a crowd in a relatively small room, all looking to see what the chief was going to do. Half of them were immediately shooed out, with a stern, “Don’t you have anything else to do?” Apparently half didn’t because they stayed.
It was obvious to everyone except Kait that the box needed to be cut, the question was how. Colin’s finger had swollen over the edge of the hole which meant the scissors were going to have to go under his finger without cutting him. Eventually chief decided on making two angled cuts toward the finger and then hope he could bend the last remaining bits until they broke.
Colin cried the whole time the box was cut, while the chief told him how brave he was and how good he was for keeping his hand so still. The final cuts were made and the metal snapped off perfectly. Then one of the fire fighters gave them each a goodie bag with a fire safety colouring book and crayons. The box was quietly disposed.
Kait missed that box for years. Colin’s very happy with his finger.