Stories and thoughts about family and life

Tammer Toe

on July 1, 2014

My 11 year old never ceases to amaze me. He will absolutely wear me out over some things (“Mom, you said you were going to look this up for me” or “Mom, remember three weeks ago when we talked about a sleepover?”). Other things you’ll never hear him say. Apparently “Mom, I need a new pair of shoes” is one of those things.

When my boys each got to be about 10, I stopped being the one they came to for all their more intimate boo-boos. I really don’t look at anything anymore that isn’t on their heads. Dad became the go-to person when they had problems. That works better for everybody, most of the time.

Following Scout camp a couple of weeks ago, Brennan came home with over 100 bites on his poor little body. The mosquitos and chiggers made quite a feast out of him, which is typical. I keep telling him he must have sweet blood, to which I receive an eye roll. Reality for Brennan is, though, that these bites become painful because he has a severe reaction and each bite swells up to several times its normal size. I gave him some Benadryl and some an itch spray to apply and things were going okay for the most part, until he comes in a couple of mornings ago and announces that one bite in particular isn’t healing and it’s bothering him a lot more than the others. His dad suggests that he needs to take off his clothes and show me so I can be sure it’s not infected, and I discover he has two bites on his testicles (ouch!). We put some anti-itch cream on them and as I’m “clearing” him to put his clothes back on, I realize his big toes on both feet look a little malformed.

I start to question how this has happened, and whether his shoes are too tight. I have him try on his shoes (which fit fine just a month or so ago), and realize that now he’s cramming his feet into them. After we have a discussion about how he needs to let me know when something doesn’t fit suddenly so I can fix the problem. I’m explaining this isn’t good for his feet and that he can cause a permanent situation. Louis jumps in after seeing his toe, and tells him that he’s developing Hammer Toe (which wasn’t exactly correct, but certainly got the point across). I explain that foot issues like that can result in surgery, and it’s very important that he tells us when something doesn’t fit anymore. When you’re 11, all you hear is “surgery,” just in case you wondered. . .

I ordered Brennan new shoes, and we’re all set. As we were waiting for them to come in, I made him wear his flip-flops. As we were getting ready to head home one night, Brennan and Lucas obviously want to talk to me. They get my attention, and start the conversation.

Lucas “what are we going to do about Brennan’s Tammer Toe?” I must have cocked my head and looked at him funny, because he continued “we need to do something about his toes.”

Without missing a beat, Brennan joins in “I’ve been thinking, that we have a lot of anti-itch cream at home, and that might help.”

I had to stifle a laugh. “First off, it’s Hammer Toe, not Tammer Toe, and you don’t have it. Dad’s point was that you could get something like that if you didn’t take care of your feet. Secondly, anti-itch cream isn’t nearly as good a solution as telling your mother when your shoes get tight.”

Brennan exclaims “But I’m going to have to have surgery!”

I explained, “I never said you would have to have surgery. I said that things like that if they go too far are resolved with surgery. Again, the point being that you have to tell us when things don’t fit or aren’t working right. Did we learn to not cram our feet into small shoes?” Brennan nodded, with a pitiful look on his face. By the time my husband got in the vehicle, the kids and I had a pretty good laugh over the whole story.

Brennan now has his new shoes, and is ready for school to start this next Thursday. I don’t think I’ll have to worry about him neglecting his feet in the future.


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