Monday, January 16, 2012
The Teacher Becomes the Taught
When I was 3 or 4 years old my father got us in a car crash. We had just come home from something or other, and our cat was on top of the table, and I wanted to hold her. So I pulled her down to me. Of course, being just a toddler I didn't know how to handle a cat in such a way, she thought she was falling, put out her claws, and scratched my eye. I don't remember much of this, just vague impressions, but my mother later told me there was a lot of blood and crying, and my dad panicked and threw us in the car and raced for the hospital. Unfortunately, due to his belief that my eyeball had been shredded, he ignored one too many stop signs and we got t-boned. The police took my mother and me to the hospital and it turned out that the cat had only nicked my eyelid and I was perfectly fine. All my life I never fully appreciated that incident, and kinda wondered why my normally rational father would lose his shit so. Yesterday I found out. Sharon's fingernails have needed trimming for a while now, but my up-close vision has degraded to the point that even with glasses it's very hard for me to see her whisper-thin, yet oh-so-sharp nails. But my wife has been sick of late and hasn't been up to doing much of anything, so I put on two pairs of glasses and figured I'd give it a go. The first clip went ok, or so I thought, but slowly Sharon's face went from baby neutral to a soul-shredding frown of ultimate unhappiness and she began screaming in pain. Looking more closely I saw I had taken a nip out of the end of her thumb, and it was starting to bleed. I felt like I was the worst, most horrible daddy ever, and as I held my screaming baby to my chest, knowing that she was screaming because of me, the myriad of emotions flooding me completely ripped any rationality from my mind. Anger, confusion, terror all blotted out my usually analytical thought processes, and all I could do was move in random directions while trying to comfort the wailing creature in my arms. My poor teenager made the mistake of being visible and I yelled at her in my frustration, sending her to her room in tears. Fortunately this only lasted a few minutes, and I calmed down enough to finally get myself together and take care of the injury...a bit of hydrogen peroxide and a way-too-big Band-Aid did the trick...and apologize to the COA, but I felt like the lowest of the low all the rest of the day. I know that should this be my worst day as a daddy I'll be very lucky, but I also hope that my complete losing of my shit over such a relatively minor thing will help me to not do so in the future if/when something serious happens. And dad, if you are still out there and are watching, I get it now.