Politeness, Part 2: Needles and Saws

I’ve been thinking about tact and grace this morning and I remembered last week when I had to dig multiple berry thorns out of Brother’s arm. Poor baby! For larger splinters I sometimes use the tip of a clean, sharp pocket knife, but these were numerous and tiny so I used a needle, magnifying glass, and tweezers. Poor guy was crying because by the time I noticed them the immediate area had already started to swell a little, and it hurt. I tried to tell him that it would stop hurting when Mom could get the “prickles” out and wash it, but logic doesn’t hold much sway over a frightened 3-year-old. Nana finally held the arm while I removed the offenders, all the while feeling like a terrible person because my baby sat so still and sobbed. He sat still because he trusted me not to hurt him more than I absolutely had to, because he’s very used to needles, because at three, he already understands that sometimes the people we love have to hurt us a little bit to help us.

I chose the appropriate tools for thorn removal because I knew it had to happen, but I wanted to make it as easy as I could on both of us. I didn’t want to do more damage getting them out than they were doing all by themselves. But I wonder if we do that with our friends? I feel like sometimes we go after the “thorns” in other peoples’ lives with a bone saw instead of a needle and tweezers. Maybe even a battle axe, sometimes. Maybe we believe that the bigger deal we make about something, the bigger impression it will make on the other person, and the more apt they will be to listen and change. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, though.

Choosing the right tools for the job is crucial to getting it done right, and bigger is not necessarily better.

So what about you? Have you removed any splinters with a tile saw, lately?

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