Tuesday morning, just as the liquid pink sun spilled over the horizon, I made my way to Sean’s room. I stood over him for a minute and watched him sleep. The nightlight revealed the form of his rounded spine. Like a little bug, his knees and hands were drawn up tightly to his chest. He was cold. He has yet to master the art of pulling up the covers.
I resisted the urge to pull his blanket up over him. I was on a mission. I was about to do the one thing that everyone agrees you should never do – wake a sleeping baby. But it had to be done.
I gently patted and rubbed his back. I dug one arm out from under him. I tugged him upright. Still sleeping, he sat up. His head lolled drunkenly to one side and then he collapsed back into this bed, feet still on the floor.
“Sean,” I whispered, “We have to get up.”
I pulled him up again, this time lifting him into my arms.
“Wanna play Legos?” he yawned into my ear, still mostly asleep.
“Okay,” I said, “But first I need to put some magic cream on your arms.”
“Okay,” he said, as if that made perfect sense.
I sat him down on the side of the bed again. I pulled his twig like arm out of his pajamas. I rubbed the lidocaine cream on the inside of his elbow and put a plastic bandage over it.
Now he was awake. This was not right. The big plastic bandage felt weird. This is a child who must have every tag cut out of every item of clothing he wears. He did not like it. Tears sprang to his eyes. His bottom lip trembled.
“I don’t like this!” he said, tugging at the bandage. I gently pulled his hands away and tucked his arm back into his shirt.
I told him that we had to go get his blood drawn and that this magic cream would make it so that it wouldn’t hurt. He searched my face. I knew he was thinking about last week, when he had his blood drawn, how it was scary, how it hurt. I tried to wear the expression of a confident grown up, of someone who had a grip, someone who knew what she was doing — someone he could trust.
“Oh,” he said quietly. His chin dropped to his chest. Resignation. Compliance. He looked so small and pitiful.
I wanted to cover him with kisses, to tuck him safely back into his bed, to pull the blanket up over him. Instead I wiped his tears with the sleeve of my robe. Then I pulled his other arm out of his pajama shirt and smoothed on the magic cream.
If only they made magic cream to numb the heart.