Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Mystery of the Cut Finger

I was downstairs on the computer, on the phone with Devin trying to work out his hotel reservations as he drove around Minneapolis hoping he wouldn't have to spend the night in his car.
My sister-in-law Rachel was upstairs, nursing baby Tabitha.  My brother Dan was on the top floor in the bedroom laying down.
Hallie (3 yrs), Emily (2 yrs), and Hanna (1 yr) were entertaining themselves, for the most part.

I came up the stairs when I was done on the phone/computer with Devin and sat down on the couch to talk to Rachel. I was about to start in on how Devin had accidentally reserved a smoking room, and the hotel had no non-smoking available yadda yadda yadda, when my little niece Emily came over to me, her face puckered up and sad. "Finger hurt," she said to me, holding up her bloody index finger for evidence.  I sprang to my feet midsentence, picked her up and rushed her to the bathroom so I could wash the blood off and see how deep the cut was.

Having washed the cut, I applied pressure to stop the bleeding so I could put a princess bandaid on her poor little finger. As I did this, I tried to figure out what had happened. "Emily, how did you hurt your finger?"
"Right there," she said, pointing to the spot where I held the toilet paper pressed down.  "But how did this happen?" I tried again.
"Finger hurts. Finger hurts," she repeated. Realizing that I wasn't going to get much more information than this, I put the bandaid on and went back out to survey the scene, and try to figure out for myself how she had cut her finger.
We had played with paper and scissors earlier, but I had been very careful to pick up all the scissors again. I double checked, but there were no scissors in sight.  I looked at the kitchen table and felt my stomach sink.  There was a very sharp knife still sitting on the table from when we had been cutting some cheese earlier. Why didn't I put that away? "Did you get the knife, Emily?" I asked her.  "Finger hurt," she said to me, frowning.  I apologized to her mom for having left the knife out, and leaving it at that we went upstairs to get ready for bed. 

At which time we realized that Emily also had a cut on the same hand, on her thumb.  I went back downstairs to get another bandaid, and looked closely at the knife while I was there.  No blood anywhere. On the knife, the chair, the table, no sign of blood.  She had been bleeding enough that there should have been blood.  I put the knife in the sink and went back upstairs.  "It couldn't have been the knife, it was clean, and how would it have cut her index finger and her thumb?"  I said to Rachel, completely perplexed and feeling bad that her child had hurt herself.  I sat and pondered as the girls put on their pajamas. 

I suddenly remembered a sharp pair of sewing scissors that I have whose blades overlap a little, and that had given Hanna a nasty cut once a few months ago.  I explained this theory to Rachel, and she said that was likely it. Emily is a bit of a climber, and certainly could have gotten ahold of my scissors.  So, we put this theory to Emily. "Emily, did you get the scissors?" "Scissors, yes finger hurt," she said, and we breathed a sigh of relief.  We had found the culprit, and while I felt bad that she had hurt herself on my scissors at least I could put them away on a higher surface and no one would get hurt anymore.  But just as I was settling in to my relief, Hallie piped up. "It was the pumpkin," She said.  "Pumpkin?" I asked, incredulous.  Why was Hallie talking about pumpkins?  "Emily hurt herself on the pumpkin," Hallie said, looking at me with sincerity in her face.  I had no idea how to respond to this, how could you hurt yourself on a pumpkin?  I dismissed her statement and finished reading her stories. 

Once the girls were in bed I went to investigate the table where my sewing was laying out.  Unfortunately for my investigation, the scissors were hidden underneath a pile of fabric, paper, and assorted other things and none of that stuff had any blood on it either.  I racked my brain trying to come up with the solution. Something in my house was hurting babies, and I had to find it.  I looked around again for a lone pair of scissors, or a different knife. Nothing. I could see nothing that was sharp.  Sighing, I went upstairs to go to bed myself.

The  next morning we were setting out breakfast, and I noticed the bright orange pumpkin sitting on the counter.  I had picked it from our garden the week previously, and I was so pleased with its cheerful autumn self.  Hallie caught me looking at it and said, "Emily hurt on the pumpkin."  Hallie seemed so insistent on this idea that I looked more closely at the pumpkin.  Now, I don't know if it is all pumpkins or just the variety that we grow in our backyard, but they have some vicious thorns on their stems.  These thorns remain when you pull the pumpkin off the vine.  Not to mention that the stem is just about the width of little Emily's hand, fitting snugly just about where her index finger and thumb would wrap. 

And so, based on the expert testimony of one Hallie Rose, and the evidence of the thorns on the pumpkin, in addition to the width of the stem and the positioning of the cuts on Emily's hand, I had to conclude that she had tried to lift the pumpkin by the stem in one hand, and had cut herself in the process.  Certainly the best theory we had so far.

Except for one thing. There was no blood anywhere on the pumpkin, counter, or on the chair she had used to climb, either.  I'd like to send this in to "Unsolved Mysteries" and let them have a crack at it.


  1. Is this from a Busytown mysteries episode? ;)

  2. Hahaha. Oh toddlers.

    The other day Jill was playing with a three year old (Benji). They were in the other room. He started to cry. His mother went in and asked what happened. He said the dinosaur hurt him. She asked him how, and he just kept telling her where.

    So I asked Jill what happened, and Jill said she had hurt him. She was holding a dinosaur, so I am going to assume she must have hit him with the dinosaur.

    What a friend Benji was to not tattle on her. Perhaps he's sweet on her . . . :)