A boy and their parent share a moment of bravery.
|I haven't seen my son cry this much since the day his mother died. My little Paolo screams in agony, with a bruise on his left arm the size of a baseball, because the nurse can't find a vein for a blood sample. She prepares yet another tube. Fifth time's the charm, she says.|
"It's ok, you're ok," I reassure him while stroking his messy black hair. "You aren't scared are you?" Paolo looks up through teary green eyes and nods yes. The needle is sharp, he cries, and it hurts every time the nurse pinches.
I'm scared too. Scared I can never make his pain stop, scared of failing as a parent. Before the thought spiral takes me further, I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
"Hey, you know what I do when I'm scared? I close my eyes and remember a time I was brave." Paolo tries stifling his crying. "Remember when you found that sea urchin on the beach, all prickly and sharp?"
He nods while closing his eyes. His breaths are sharp and quick, but he's finally stopped crying.
"That didn't stop you from touching it. You held it in your hands to show Mama." I remember our last family trip: her rail-thin body sitting under a yellow umbrella with a matching swim cap covering her bald head. I bite my lip to hold back tears of my own.
Paolo keeps his eyes sealed shut as the nurse begins another attempt on his right arm. He shudders when the needle pierces his skin, but he stays calm this time.
"You're brave and strong, even when you cry," I say before taking another deep breath. "You can do this." Blood starts trickling into the tube. "You can do this," this time to myself.