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Jackie Little: The Cactus Incident

My Life As A Domestic Ogress

The Cactus Incident

Scoop's Jackie Little ponders the absurdities of modern life.

As Victor Medlrew would say: " I don't belieeve it"

Except I can! Number three child had fallen on a cactus.

A Cactus!!! for Pete's (whoever Pete may be) sake!!

This was while in care of the grandparents, so I admonish myself, though Grandma hastens to add, 'twas in Grandad's sole charge

As will follow, it is no adults's fault: it is in the very nature of the boy - a future Richard Hammond? …but to return to the story…

My baby has a long (for his tender years) history of personal trauma of which this was the latest.

Thankfully I was not there to witness it, but evidently it was worse than dreadful. After edging his way using his upper arm strength ( much encouraged at Kindergarten) along a fence . he fell at the most strategic moment and punctured himself where one would not! Several times!!

Apparently he was brave at first but suddenly came in crying and tugging at his trousers. Gran thought they must be wet, but the dreadful truth was soon revealed: Several vicious spines in the vulnerable four year old backside.

I was not there for the anguish of the pulling out ceremony: "No Granny! Pleseese don't", pleeeeaaaase don't Granny" - enough to send you into guilt therapy for life.

But the thing: is: Some kids are just prone to disaster. He was born unlucky. Ironically, he spent the first year of his life asleep, obstinately refusing to put on weight. Then he suddenly woke up and has caused nothing but panic and mayhem ever since.

He awoke and wanted to explore, climb, pillage:the kitchen cupboards, wreck mum's cosmetics collection, you name it

So it was not long before his self injurious tendencies kicked in. First just simple bumps on the head and mandatory falls but soon he got more ambitious.

It would be tedious to list all the near death experiences this chid has been through (and it might get me in trouble with CYFS) but honestly!

One day he was charging around with a chopstick, yelling "Geronimo" (or possibly not that, but I confess I cannot remember the exact battle charge, given the later trauma).

Next thing I knew I was at Hutt hospital , for a seven hour wait. He had split his face from nose to lip and required surgery which necessitated enough time for his stomach to be sufficiently empty to be prepared for the general anaesthetic.

My personal preparation was a talk with the surgeon who gave me a "reassuring" monologue from which the only phrases I seemed to filter were: "very powerful drugs " and "always a risk with surgery"' .

Oh Dear Lord!!!!

Endless hours to fill in which I could not eat or drink as that would clearly have been a torment to my little boy who was starting to implore me for a glass of water,

This is when the torture of parenthood really kicks in. I had to deny him it and continue denying him it until the surgeons were ready to administer their "very powerful drugs" that were "always a risk"

Trying to fill in the time socially I had an interesting encounter with a dye haired boy with his arm in a sling. His mum told me he had injured himself at School Sports Day where the kids were encouraged to wear "patriotic" colours.

"I see you the trauma has turned your hair blue", I ventured, only to be met with a blank stare.

Clearly my style of comedy does not appeal to youth.


Since the very successful surgery my darling son has learnt nothing and continues his reckless life. The cactus punctures are healing. But the barbs in my heart remain.


Jackie Little is a Scoop staff reporter who has recently returned to the paid workforce.

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