Parenting 101 – Cactus Spine Removal

The cholla cactus we have in the back yard has erupted into glorious magenta blooms. This cactus is HUGE. The original owners of the house brought it home from the countryside in a coffee cup, and now all its arms create a mass that is over four feet tall and over five feet in diameter. One of the horrible blizzards we had a few years ago knocked it down a couple notches, but it survived and is going strong.

Claire is enthralled with the “Pretty Flowers!” so I wanted to get a picture of it. I decided to put her in the picture to give some idea as to how large and expansive this cactus really is.

I decided to take her out to the cactus in the morning when the blooms were big, and also long before her nap, because she always throws a fit when we have to come inside, and getting her to take a nap after such a travesty of injustice would be nearly impossible.

So, with camera in hand, out we went. Daddy decided to stay in the kitchen to finish breakfast and get started on his projects for the weekend.

Claire and the Cactus

Everything was going really well, and I made her stand where she wouldn’t fall into the cactus. That would be horrible! Removing cactus spines was not on the top of my list of things I wanted to do today.

I clicked a couple pictures, and then about 15 seconds into lining up the third shot, Claire actually touched the “Pretty Flowers!” Yikes!! This kind of cactus actually releases its spines into its victim, rather than keeping them!! (Who knew!?) She had about 45 spines sticking out of her palm and fingers.

I scooped her up so quickly, she had no idea what was happening. She then threw a fit, not so much because of the spines in her hand, but because she didn’t want to go into the house! She was so mad that she made little balls with her fists, and that made the cactus spines dig in even deeper!

Luckily, Daddy was still in the kitchen, and he had to help me hold her hand open and pull the spines out with tweezers.


I think we got most of them out, and then she insisted on going back out to look at the “Pretty Flowers!” She’d shake her head ‘no’ and point to her hand and the flowers and say, “NO TOUCH! Pretty Flowers.” It was pretty funny (and not funny at the same time).

When we got back in the house, I put a piece of mailing tape on her hand and got even more out that way! I hope we got them all. That cactus is so deceiving! I guess we’ve both learned our lessons…and I’m not sure who was in more pain: Momma or Claire.

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