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Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, brother to nine, and thoroughly but barely educated on the street, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. He lives with his son in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Slamming Tiny Fingers in Car Doors

By Dan Pearce |

It’s a right of passage, isn’t it? Slamming your fingers in car doors when you’re a kid?

I definitely remember being in an altercation or two (or five) with my parent’s Chevy Astro and it’s giant sliding doors which I’m convinced were designed by the devil himself. I remember the terror that engulfed me each time, as those steel doors slammed shut on my tiny fingers. I remember the black and purple blisters that resulted. I remember the uncontrollable bawling. I remember my mom holding me. Rubbing the pain out of them. I remember hating that dang Chevy Astro.

A kid can only take so many finger slams before he starts taking it personally.

How my fingers survived my younger years is a mystery to me. Every kid must have door slam angels that keep the tiny bones from exploding into unfixable pieces when they get shut in the door. According to basic physiology and physics, those fingers shouldn’t be able to make it through such assaults.

And this morning Noah had his first tango with the steel devil (at least under my watch). I was sitting in the front seat already when he got to his door in the back. I looked back and watched him swing the door open. It swung back closed again, and he tried to catch it before it could.

Before it shut again… before I saw the terror in his face… before I saw the panic… before I saw the tears… before I heard the screams…

I knew.

His fingers were about to get shut in that door.

And sure enough, the door swung close. And for a split second, there was nothing but silence.

Then a gasp.

Then a shriek.

I lunged back and popped the door open as quickly as I could. Noah lurched backwards and held his hand to his face. In less than a second, he squinted his eyes and then opened them wider than I’ve ever seen them. His mouth clamped closed then opened impossibly big. He inhaled a giant breath of air. And then…

All hell broke loose.

He started jumping and dancing and writhing in pain. The howls escaping his throat were heartbreaking. Giant tears began clumsily rolling down his cheeks. He kept attempting to look at his little hands but quickly hid them out of his own sight again, not wanting to acknowledge the damage that had been done.

I was already out of the car and had scooped him up before I even knew I was doing it. He wouldn’t show me his fingers. To do so was more terrifying than the experience itself. So, I just held him and let him cry it out.

Eventually the pain subsided and we were able to assess the damage together. Sure enough, black and purple blisters were already starting to appear. Noticing this, of course, brought on round two of crying and another chance for Dad to console.

In the end, he survived it, just as I always did. His fingers weren’t broken just like mine never were. And, he’s got some gnarly battle wounds to show off just like I always had.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. Do you have memories of slamming your fingers in car doors as a kid? Anybody else have a sliding van door out to get them when they were younger? And have your kids had it happen yet?

Read more from me on Single Dad Laughing! Also, be sure to checkout dumbubble, my other hilarious and fun website.
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I Bit My Kid’s Head Off For No Real Reason Today
For My Kid’s First Birthday, I Got Him a Facebook Account
Why the Heck Would it Be Where it Goes?

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About Dan Pearce

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Dan Pearce

Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. Read bio and latest posts → Read Dan's latest posts →

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45 thoughts on “Slamming Tiny Fingers in Car Doors

  1. marcia says:

    I slammed my finger so hard in the car door once that my nail fell off.

  2. Ashley says:

    I actually avoided it as a kid (that I can remember). I grew up around -something- being constantly worked on, so my injuries usually came from tools. It was only when I was about 20 that a car door ever closed on my fingers.

    I don’t even remember exactly what happened. I had gotten out of my ’93 Buick Skylark, coming home from getting my pay check, and I locked the doors and stuck my keys in my right pocket, the door was shutting slowly anyway, so I reached over and closed it the rest of the way. … And didn’t get my right hand out of the way in time. And the door latched.

    So I had to dig my keys from my right jeans pocket with my left hand and unlock the door to free myself.

    I was just grateful that I hadn’t locked the keys in the car again.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    My son actually got the tip of his forefinger broken- trip to hospital, splint, pain meds, nail removed, trip to neurosurgeon to make sure he had feeling, ickkkk all over (fortunately his non-dominant hand)

  4. Sars says:

    OUCH !!!! ouch ouch

    oh yes i did it as a kid several times and this post makes me clearly remember that pain :(

    oh poor Noah… i hope its feeling somewhat better now.

  5. Miranda says:

    I was probably 9 when my dad was getting ready to take me to softball practice in his big old blue conversion van (with a giant sliding door). I remember he shut the door once I was in the van, but it wouldn’t latch…because my fingers were in it. He slammed the door about 3 times on my fingers before I was able to get a scream out! He felt HORRIBLE. But I survived! lol

    It hurts worse as an adult…nothing like closing your own car door on your own hand. And having no one else to open the door for you :)

  6. Monica says:

    My sister slammed my head in the car door more than once. She also slammed my fingers in a locked car door and then did not want to unlock or even open the door for me. She was an evil teen. She’s much better now. Perhaps she resented having her younger sister be her shadow for so many years…

    My own daughter has had her fingers slammed in my Jeep door more than once. She always grabs the door frame as I close the door, but only when the hard top is off. It is always traumatic and always loud, especially since the top is off and everyone within a ten mile radius can hear her screech. I am amazed that her fingers have not broken. She broke her arm in two places when she fell while playing “Horsey” with her dad and then, upon recovery from that, broke her nose playing softball. Yep. She’s accident prone.

    Good luck guys!

  7. Kelly says:

    I remember gently slamming my fingers in out minivan doors, nothing like that.
    What I did do though, I managed to get my thumb slammed into the door jam, where the hinges are. Broke the thumb in multiple places. I remember screaming in pain.
    Hope his little fingers heal soon.

  8. Rob says:

    interestingly, I’ve only done it as an adult. Perhaps I had more grace as a child.

  9. Kathy says:

    Yep! Did it twice had to have stitches and finger splint both times. The first time My dad reached back and closed the door the second time my brother did it. The second time I was only out of the finger splint for a couple of days before the second. I still have the scars about 40 years later..Give Noah my love and tell him that I said car doors are evil.

  10. Caroldean says:

    I have a daily reminder of closing the Pinto’s door on my left thumb when I was 9 years old. It was at Oakmont Elementary in Claremont, CA. My mom and I were there for parent-student-teacher conferences. I got out of the car, locked the door and closed it on my left thumb. I calmly asked my mom for the keys so I could get my thumb out of the car. She didn’t quite understand and walked around and then she was horrified and in her hurry dropped the keys. When my thumb was finally released, it was bleeding. Somehow, I stayed calmed through it all. We went to the office and got a band-aid and then went to the conference. I lost the nail and killed the part of my thumb that makes the top layer of nail. I now have a deformed left thumb nail that constantly peels and occasionally gets infected.

  11. Shirley says:

    I have fallen victim to the vicious car door many times, as recently as a month or so ago. Only this last time, my actions were quicker than my thoughts and instead opening the car door, I yanked my fingers out. Nice battle wounds!! Didn’t break a nail tho! :) Another vicious monster is the power windows. I don’t know who felt worse, me with my fingers stuck in the window, or my step-dad, who was controlling the window.

  12. Robin says:

    Oh, I remember those days. I have 6 children and a Chevy Astro…need I say more?

  13. dawn says:

    Ouch. Hope the poor little chaps fingers feel better soon. They probably already do but you write so vividly I can hardly move mine to type this message.

  14. Stacey says:

    My worst experience yet was having my son catch his fingers in the door with the door locked. I couldn’t get the doors unlocked fast enough. He ended up losing a nail on one of the fingers.

    Another memorable one was when my eldest slammed them in our Jeep while out on errands. Ran into the store and convinced someone to get me a bag of ice. In the process I locked my keys & purse in the car. Ended up having to wait with a sad, sad boy (plus his 2 siblings) for dad to come rescue us.

  15. Kayla says:

    My daughter (4) battled our van door last month. Thankfully we were in the parking lot of her doctors office when it occurred. All I remember was picking her up and running faster than I thought I could at 5 months pregnant holding a screaming 40lb child. Lucky for her she won the battle and was left with a few minor bruises. But I can’t tell you if the terror and panic was worse for her or me?

  16. Martin Wuestewald says:

    When I was 4 or 5, we were walking into the doctor’s office as a little girl and her family were leaving. While we were waiting inside, the little girl had shut her finger’s in the door and they were carry her screaming past me right back into a room where she screamed for what seemed like forever as they stitched her up….that was enough for me to learn to be careful. I’ve never shut mine, and I hope my kids never do.

  17. Heather says:

    I was 18 or 19 years old before I got to know the joy of slamming your fingers in the car door. I had an 80s model Mercury Cougar, with the wrap-around airplane style doors. I got out of the car. I put the keys in my jeans pocket — right-hand pocket because I’m right-handed. I locked the door and started to close it — again with my right-hand because I’m right-handed. And a gust of wind caught that big heavy door, and slammed it shut on the middle finger of my right-hand (aka: the “bad” finger). I had to carefully dance around in pain, with tears rolling down my face, as I struggled to reach across my body to fish the car keys out of my right jeans pocket with my left-hand. It took an eternity or, really, probably only a couple minutes … but it felt like an eternity. In the next few hours, my finger turned several lovely shades of black, blue and purple. I couldn’t bend my finger for days, and the nail turned black. A few weeks later, the nail came off … a whole other round of pain! Eventually, my finger returned to normal and I learned NOT to put my keys in my pocket until I was walking AWAY from the car. ;)

  18. Audrey says:

    When I was in 10th grade, I slammed my index finger of my left hand in the car door. Bad thing was, Mom had already hit the door lock, so when the door shut, I couldn’t open it. I started screaming. She was halfway up to the store and started slowly walking back, thinking I had just left my purse in the car or something. I ended up going to the ER but the doctor said about the only thing he could do would be to remove my fingernail. (The injury was on my nail bed.) He said it would come off on its own eventually, so it was up to me. I decided to let it fall off on its own. I had to keep that finger wrapped up for a while, and it was huge. I was in typing class at the time, so that was hard, but I still managed to get an A. Funny that I went on to become a typist. LOL Once my finger was unwrapped, I could see a new fingernail growing underneath the old one, but before the old one fell off, someone threw a ball and hit it and knocked it off. The new fingernail had not finished growing and now I have a split in my fingernail that will never go away. I can’t let that fingernail grow at all or it will pick my clothes. I tried wearing a fake fingernail, but because of the split, it got infected underneath the fake nail, so I just have an ugly fingernail. :( I don’t think either of my children have slammed their fingers in the car door, and they are 13 and 24 now. My son has run the back door of our house over his toes a couple of times though, and that was pretty painful.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I have a couple door smashing experiences and they are pretty extreme. As a toddler, I was using the door to balance myself (on the hinge side) when somebody came along and shut it. And it wasn’t just a door, mind you. It was one of those big, metal, latches when it shuts doors.Well, my little, 3-year old, ring finger was in that door when it shut. And it didn’t just get smashed, it was chopped off just above the first knuckle. No reattachment, now I just have a weird looking fingernail. My mother was devastated because I would never be able to have a wedding picture of my and my future husbands hands showing the rings. Then, eleven years later, I had a paper route. My cousin and I were delivering them with the help of his mother. She was driving us and we were sitting on the window sill of the back doors. (This was before it was illegal to do so.) We came to a house that took their paper on the porch, so our friend got out and ran it up there. I was still sitting in the window, laughing at the fact that he had opened the door with me hanging out of it. Laughing, all the way up until my forearm was shut in the hinge side of the car door. My first instinct was to rip my arm away, which in turn ripped part of my muscle, along with my skin off. After an excessive amount of stitches later, I am much more careful. I am also kids’ worst nightmare when I hear doors being slammed.

  20. Lisa says:

    Oh I remember those horrible occurrences! That hurt so bad. Poor Noah!

  21. Susan says:

    OMG, this had me laughing and crying at the same time. Your description of poor Noah was priceless! And then the love. >>sniffle<<

    I need to call my Mom, She Who Heals All Smashes, right now!

  22. elshortone says:

    I remember closing my fingers in the door of our Astro van multiple times. Every time, one of my three brothers would tell me because there wasn’t any blood, I shouldn’t cry (I’m the only girl, and the youngest). I don’t know how many times they closed their fingers in the car door growing up, but it KILLS! I think I “earned” the right to cry in those situations!

  23. Danica Claridge says:

    Mine got slammed when I was a teenager. I got out at the gas station after rolling up in my awesome station wagon after an lds mutual night and my friend in the back seat got out too. We were chatting and I put my ring finger and middle finger in the jam…not knowingly…and my friend slammed it. I swore so loud…over and over and over and we couldn’t get the door open. My fingers didn’t break but I kinda wish they had cuz I swear they were bending.

  24. Gretchen says:

    Oh yes, I’ll second the laughing AND wincing reactions to reading this story!

    I managed to be one of THOSE children who didn’t have too many really awful accidents but when I did do something I went all out to make sure it was a goodie! Thankfully my little finger was able to be sewn back on after the incident with the bedroom door, I managed to write left-handed for 2 weeks while my right thumb recovered after being slammed in the car door, the skin on my knees and ankles did eventually grow back after a close encounter with a oyster-covered rock at the beach, and the bruises as described above did fade for all the other times I came off second best in the battle of the car doors.

    Now I live in fear of the day one of my kids meets our current car’s doors: they’re heavy on all counts, and sliding at the back…it’s really just a matter of time (especially as far as my accident-prone (and extremely high-pitched-when-upset) daughter is concerned!). I actually have a cloth and some “magical” arnica cream in the glovebox…just waiting…just in case…

  25. Christie Ward says:

    I was born in ’62, so there were no sliding van doors. My beloved great grandparents had a green Oldsmobile four-door sedan. I never wanted my grandmother to leave, so I was standing between the front tire and the door where I could see her best as goodbyes were said, and I always got my fingers smushed in the front edge of that door.

    You’d think after once I’d have learned, but nope, this happened several times. I got bruised, but not broken.

    The day as a young adult, however, as I exited a SUV with my keys in my left hand and “flung” the door shut with my right and closed my own fingers in the car door, was a different story. I’d already clicked the “lock all doors” switch as I got out (no electronic beep-beep car locks then).

    The shock made me drop the keys. My hand was hung up high enough that I could not reach the keys. And I was wearing hi-tops, so I couldn’t just kick out of a shoe. FINALLY I was able to get my right foot to my left hand without tearing off my right fingers, got the shoe and sock off, and then made like a monkey and got the keys with my toes and the door unlocked. Two broken fingers from that escapade.

    Since they say God watches over fools and children, from this pair of stories I can only conclude I must not be a fool.

  26. Hiro says:

    I did this quite a few times and even broke a finger once…but the funny story isn’t mine. It was a girl i went to school with. Amber(not real name) rode to school with her big sister(we were in like 5th grade). One day she came to breakfast, ate, and then realized she had left her backpack in the car. The bell rang for us to go to first class(about 8am) and she had gotten her sisters keys to go get her back pack. We didn’t see her again until after lunch when her sister went to get a book from her car and found Amber…leaned up on the car door crying. she had closed the door on her fingers and locked. it wasn’t tight enough to hurt her, but she couldn’t get her hand out and the keys were in her other pocket and she couldn’t reach them. Even in college she is made fun of for this.

  27. Nicole says:

    I grew up with one of those blasted Chevy Astros, but I learned from the kids next door, (Who were slamming their fingers in OUR van.) To not touch the door. So my 7 year old self told Daddy it was “too heavy” and I was in the clear till we sold that thing!

  28. Stephen says:

    When I was 15 my mom would always drive me to school in the morning and on the way we dropped off my little brother at day care. I will never forget the morning his little hand got closed in the sliding door. My mom had got him out of the car and was about to take him in, she grabbed the door and slid it closed and at the last second my little brother reached in to grab something.His one little finger got caught in the door. 2 things happened, first my little brother screamed g.d. and my mom had the worst look of horror I had ever seen on her face. Before I knew what was happening she handed me the keys jumped in the back seat with my little brother and said drive to the doctors office. I said “Mom you’re not in the front seat” and she said “It’s okay, you can do this.” Note: I was 2 months away from turning sixteen and had been driving steadily every day, even on a 6 hour road trip that I had to drive all of (right of passage in my family). Not fifteen minutes later we pulled up at the doctors office and the nurse came running out (another note, family doctors are great, my older brother had been seeing this same doctor since he was born and he was 19 at the time), they took him in to X-Ray and to my moms great relief there were no injuries. This has become a story widely told in my family and it was also the last minivan my mom every bought!

  29. Diane says:

    The one time I shut my fingers in the car door, I ended up loosing the fingernail off of one. Not fun, but definately something that happens to everyone at one point or another. :(

  30. Leslie says:

    I honestly don’t know how many times I slammed my own fingers in the car door as a child… a few, at least. However, slamming my own son’s fingers was WAY MORE TRAUMATIC. I felt like a complete loser! Of course, nothing was broken, but his poor fingers were blue & purple… What a horrible Mom, huh?

  31. Kim Fielding says:

    I still remember the trauma of slamming my younger daughter’s fingers in the door of our SUV. She was two. We were in the parking lot of a Borders, so I ran her and the older kid inside, ran to the cafe, and asked for some ice. I must have scared the kid because he came back with a bag of ice bigger than her head. And by then she’d finished crying and was totally over it, and wanted to go look at the books. And then a couple yeards later the older kid had to write an essay for school about “A Memorable Event” and what did she chose to write on? “The Time My Mom Slammed My Sister’s Fingers in the Car Door.”

  32. DataWog says:

    When I was about 5, I slammed my thumb in the car door. I can’t remember exactly what happened, but everyone else was inside the house and I guess I was just getting something out of the back. It wasn’t a sliding door, just a standard swinging door. So, I closed the door, and slammed it on my thumb…. and couldn’t get the door open again. I wrenched and I wrenched but it WOULD NOT OPEN. It wasn’t locked, just jammed, with my thumb stuck in there. I screamed for a good 5 minutes before my dad came out and wrenched the door open for me. Nothing broken, as per usual, and I don’t recall having a bruise or blisters either…. but DAMN does it hurt to have your thumb not only crushed, but caught and held while you’re screaming for help.

  33. Sarah says:

    I’ve done it several times in my moms old Mustang. My two girls have seemed to avoid it for the most part, but my son hasn’t been so lucky. I think he and his cousin have a war going on (son is 8, cousin is 5) on who can slam the other’s hand in the door the most.

    Good luck w/ Noah’s hand =)

  34. Jess says:

    Sliding van door at a girl guide meeting when I was 9 or 10. We had a green chrystler van and I remember it slamming the door on my fingers and my mom telling me I was lucky I was wearing my winter gloves! It didn’t feel that way, let me tell you!

  35. Kari says:

    I absolutely remember doing this… to my younger brother. Only, not his fingers, his hand. Unfortunately for him, it broke three of the four bones in his hand. I felt HORRIBLE! Now, almost 30 years later, it’s a funny story, any one of his many broken bone stories.

  36. Mike Adams says:

    Ahhh…I don’t recall ever slamming my hand in the door as a child, I saved that for my adult years, when I had a beat up old car, that required me to lift the door to shut it. One day, when the window was open, I closed my hand around the top of the door and closed it…oh my god that hurt. But it didn’t leave the purple blisters or anything like that! Anyway, your post reminded me of a post that one my blogger friends put up a few days back, which was thought provoking. Check out the Periphery:
    http://peripheralimages.blogspot.com/2012/04/my-right-hand.html

    thanks, Mike Adams

  37. Lollie says:

    I remember the day vivdly when my the fingers of right hand got slammed in the car door. I was around 9 years old and we had a1960 something two door Dodge Polara and as anyone can attest the car doors of the cars back then were heavier. The windows were rolled down all the way as it was quite warm outside. My sister and I were waiting with Dad for our Momma to come out of the hair salon. I guess the heat and tiresome waiting made me zone out. I was still zoned out when my mother got in the car and I somehow dangled my fingers over the edge into the danger zone. Unaware my Momma closed the door. With what seemed like eternity I screamed. :-O :’( Immediately Momma who was a nurse’s aide then; opened the door, assessed my red blistering throbbing fingers. Luckily nothing was broken and I remember having this pink “Liquid Bandage” sprayed on. The stuff hardened to form a protective layer. I can still remember how the stuff smelled. Needless to say my Momma felt awful and so did I but I developed a healthier respect for car doors and kept my hands either in my lap or sat on them! ;-)

  38. Anna says:

    I slammed my pinky finger in a mailbox once…pretty sure that is a special skill.

    I also learned to hate the doors of an Astro the hard way. I had the habit of closing the sliding door not by the handle, but from the back end. One day those fingers stayed on the edge of the steel just a little too long and got slammed on the back end of the door. Took me a few moments to see through the abject panic and get the door back open again. I swear, my mind went blank and the simple act of opening the door again was just so difficult to wrap my brain around- my mother actually had to tell me to open the door as she came around from the driver’s side of the van. I never closed the door that way again.

  39. Raven says:

    Awww poor noah, it happens bud? I use to slam my fingers between doors be it car doors or back doors. Mum use to question me on if i use to do it on purpose because you know doing it four times in a weekend is a tad bit suspicous but you end up with wicked callouses

  40. Robin says:

    My dad told me the story of when we were on a family car trip back in the 50′s, and he inadvertently slammed the car door on my fingers a couple of times (wondering why in the heck the door wouldn’t latch!). Once he realized, to his horror, what he’d done, he walked a little ways away from the car and threw up!

  41. Heather says:

    I’m a preschool teacher and, as much as I hate to admit it, kiddos sometimes get hurt in my classroom- no matter how vigilant I am. Your post made my eyes well up with tears because I, too, know that look of pain, fear and just a little bit of betrayal (how could you let this happen?) *sigh* So sorry your little guy went through this!

  42. CJ says:

    I had an ongoing battle with cars as a child. If I wasn’t getting my fingers slammed in the door, then I was getting my foot slammed in the door, bumping my head on the door or door frame, or getting my foot run over.
    My worst finger slam injury happened when I was an infant. This was in 1976, before carseats for infants were mandatory. My parents had just gotten into the car with me, and mom put me on the floor in front of her seat so she could buckle her seat belt, then she closed the door. She apparently didn’t know I had put my hand in crack at the front of the door. The door cut my pinky finger badly enough that I had to get six stitches in it, and I still have the scar today, along with the scar on the same finger from being bitten by a horse.

  43. Denise Murphy says:

    Ouch!!! That right of passage, for me, I think passed me by…only to be re-visited with vengeance at the police academy. Please, shhhhh…don’t tell anyone this next part. We were doing practice scenarios at the range, at NIGHT, and for my first one I ended up driving the police car onto the range (never done that before), to respond to a call of a “suspicious subject” walking back and forth muttering to himself, scaring people. I drive up and spot him, and suddenly he runs towards the car firing at me!!! I immediately try to get out of car to get in position to shoot him, and fall sideways, half my body inside car, half outside, because I forgot to unbuckle my seatbelt. And then…(COVER YOUR EYES…PLEASE!!!!), the rear tire of the car ran over my foot. Because I also forgot to put car in park before I tried to leap out. Moral of the story: never run over your own foot when trying to stop a bad guy!!!

  44. Diana Allen says:

    Just a month ago, I slammed my son’s finger in the front door…the metal front door, hinge side. I was going out, he was in. Oh, but no, the door didn’t shut so I pulled AGAIN to try and shut the door. My 9 year old was screaming, “Mom, Mom, STOP! His finger is in the door!” Yep, that sucker turned purple so quick. Turns out, by an xray, it wasn’t broken. Just this week the finger nail has started to fall off. Of course my husband takes the chance to jump in, and he tells my little guy, “You know, Daddy never would have done that to you!” UGH

  45. Michelle says:

    I’ve slammedmy fingers and those of my sons without doing any serious damage. However the worse damage came from the butter knife he was using to chip away at his dinosaur dig, which I personally gave him
    to use. He was using it like a hammer more or less, missed the mark and hit his finger and very quickly had a blood blister that looked extremely nasty. He was understandably very upset, in pain, and accusingly asked me why I’d given him
    the knife. I really didn’t have a good answer. He still tells this story, although he’s only six and it was just 2 years ago.

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