November 28, 2002

Thanksgiving

My two-year-old nephew recently dislocated his elbow. His grandfather did it to him, the way he lifted him. Don’t ever lift a two-year-old by the wrists.

My sister, the child’s mother, now has a new thing to fear: people lifting her son by the wrists. I saw the terror in her eyes whenever someone extended their arms towards the child.

Her other son, age six, informed me that people steal children. “I’m still a child,” he said, “so I have to be super careful.”

Later, after his uncle-to-be performed a magic act in which he caused various objects to vanish, my nephew asked me to make his stuffed bear, Mr. Red-Blue, disappear. I got up, opened the front door, and tossed the bear onto the lawn.

My mother wouldn’t believe my nephew when he told her what I had done.

“Uncle Michael wouldn’t do something like that,” she said.

“Mom, it’s true,” I said.

“He almost threw it into the street,” added my nephew.

“I didn’t throw it into the street.”

“Almost.”

I looked at him for a moment. “How about if I pick you up by your wrists?”