The Nature of a Nosebleed

So I’m just talking to someone about the kids in general, and we got to swapping stories about our boys.

It took me back to the week one of my boys was having nosebleeds. Out of the blue, he had three in two days. They were substantial events, leaving him pale and tired, causing great alarm among the other kids, and making a big mess in the bathroom. Trying to remember my first aid: head back verses head forward, pinch high verses pinch low, I did decide at one point to call TeleHealth for some pointers. We brushed up on the latest accepted means of turning off a nasal faucet, paying particular attention to the advice that if we couldn’t get it to stop in twenty minutes, it was time to head down to the Emergency.

We questioned the boy at length about possible causes, and ended up thinking that perhaps he had caught one too many basketballs with his face. A plausible reason, but not quite perfect in its timing or severity…

It was the last one that started later on a Friday evening that went too far. Coming home from the penny sale at the church, he was running and chasing the other kids when it started. The worst one yet. By the time we got home, he looked like he had exploded.

A half hour later, there was no light at the end of this tunnel. Dad and I worked out the hospital logistics. He’s far better at postponing sleep than I, so he headed out to pass away the night with the city’s most interesting unfortunates, bleeding boy in tow, complete with bloody face, shirt, shoes. We hoped that triage would think him dying and push him to the front of the line.

Alas, those nurses have seen it all, and the pair of them were there all night. I awoke at 6 a.m. to head down and spell off Dad so he could come home to a still warm bed. As I got to the door, they were coming in, Dad in true form, having conquered and won, and the boy looking surprisingly rested with a giant white ball of fluff sticking out of one nostril.

The closing of the door woke all of the other kids, who promptly came rushing downstairs to see if the doctor had, in fact, cut off the boy’s head, as the oldest of them – the other brother – had so earnestly promised them would happen. Disappointed, they all dropped into various chairs to hear what would now be quite a boring story.

Dad explained that the doc had stipticked the kid’s nostril. That’s a nasty, burning, powdery thing they rub on minor cuts, usually shaving nicks and dog claws that have been cut too short. They got the bleeding to stop, but said that if it started again, they would have to cauterize it. Many curious ears perked up at the definition of that word… But for now, he was to take it easy and let it heal.

When I asked what the cause was, Dad said the doc had found a laceration.

The little ears were quite interested now that there was, indeed, a grossly disgusting injury. Through the collective “Ewww!” I managed to argue that point.

No, not this one. There is no way this kid has a laceration. The concept that he would ever consider the idea of thinking about possibly inserting even one digit into an allegedly clean nostril was completely and wholly impossible. “No way,” I asserted.

It was then that the other boy arose from his chair and, with a dopey grin on his face, walked by his lacerated brother, nudging him playfully with his shoulder. “Must’ve been that thing we were doing the other day, eh?”

Caught off guard, the patient laughed suddenly, snorting so hard he almost blew cotton out of his nose.

“Oh yeah!” Yuk, yuk.

Tired father brought himself up to his full height over the pair of them and boomed, “What thing you were doing the other day?”

The boys looked at each other, silently agreeing to share this wicked tidbit of wisdom they had apparently experienced together.

“You know,” the healthy one explained, dramatically placing his right index finger a hair’s breadth away from the opening of his right nostril. “Go ahead, try and hit my elbow.”

It took a second, but as I looked back at his brother, smiling sheepishly with cotton up his nose, it occurred to me that he was the one who had lost.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t know that at 2 o’clock this morning,” Dad announced, and turned and headed up the stairs to bed.

My boys never fail to amaze me at the stupid games they make up. I certainly don’t mean that my boys are stupid – far from it. It takes a great deal of thought and deliberation to come up with some of these less than intelligent plans of theirs.

But I learned that boys will be boys. Always looking for another way to have a little fun.

And I learned that my kids are always willing to tell me the truth – the whole truth. I just have to ask exactly the right question. I never thought to ask if one of them had forced the other to jamb his finger up his nose, as part of a game, last Wednesday, at 8:37 p.m., thereby deciding the winner of said game.

And lastly, I learned that when the time comes for my boys to grow up and/or leave the nest, I am really going to miss them. In the end, they always make me laugh.

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