When I was in the first or second grade I rode the bus home from school.
I was a very shy child – I remember being terrified going to Nursery School for the first, oh, 180 days – and so when a fight broke out between two boys in the seat in front of mine on the bus that day, and the boys were hitting each other with their metal lunchboxes, I just sat quietly in my seat, you know, like you’re supposed to.
And when one of those lunchboxes (this all happened within seconds – the bus driver did, in fact, intervene, but she probably had to pull the bus over safely to the side of the road first because we didn’t have bus monitors riding shotgun back then) hit me right between the eyes, I did my very brave best not to cry and make a scene, because I didn’t want all that potential attention.
It wasn’t until an older girl got up in my face – in a nice way – and asked if I was okay (she probably knew, from the blood running from the cut between my eyes, that I wasn’t exactly okay) that I started to cry.
We weren’t too far from my house at that point, so I was dropped off, and the bus driver briefly explained to my dad what had happened.
To my dad. Not my mom. Because for some reason my mom wasn’t home.
She was probably at the grocery store or something. I don’t know.
I just know that because Mom, the tender of wounds, soother of sorrows, wiper of tears, wasn’t home, that meant Dad had to take care of my injury.
He sat me up on top of the washing machine in the kitchen (our washer and dryer were in the kitchen for years. My sister and I would perch atop them and watch my mom make dinner) and dabbed at the blood with a damp paper towel until I didn’t look so bad any more.
Then he got the band-aids.
I don’t think he got out the merthiolate, which was fortunate because who knows, I could be blind today if he’d remembered that horrible orange antiseptic stuff.
But, like I said, he got the band-aids.
The cut, if you remember, was right above my nose, and right between my eyes. I was smaller then. There was not a lot of space between my eyes to begin with.
Next, he peered at my face a bit, maybe to decide how to go about the bandaging my wound.
He selected the smallest band-aid in the box. You know, those really skinny ones, about 1/4” wide by an inch and a half long. Something like that.
He carefully peeled the backing off the little band-aid and centered the padded part right over my cut.
And then he pressed down on the sides so it would stick to me.
It stuck, but the ends of the band-aid were poking me in the eye, just about.
What to do?
He considered his options carefully.
And then he got a sharp pair of scissors and trimmed the ends of the band-aid, while it was still stuck to my face.
I remember his face up close, his blue eyes, shielded from any potential vitreous splatter by his glasses, so very close to my own.
And, even closer, the sharp little tips of those scissors as he snipped.
I am fortunate that he had a steady hand, otherwise this blog might be “The One-Eyed Kitchen Witch.” Or maybe I’d have opted for a patch and gone the pirate route instead.
We’ll never know, because, like many children at the hands of their well-intentioned but inexperienced fathers, I survived.
And I have to remember this, now that I am a mother and I have two children of my own who are sometimes entirely under the care of their father.
They, too, will survive their father’s care.
I know, I could have gone the tear-jerking route. But I’m not in the mood to cry, or to make anyone else cry.
My father is a kind, caring, compassionate man. A gentle man. A gentleman.
I am who I am, in part, because of the examples he has set. I do my best to follow in his footsteps, but they are large shoes to fill.
And I have small feet.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.
And Happy Father’s Day to my husband, Bill, father of my children.
So far, he hasn’t poked either of our kids in the eye with scissors.
Alex and Julia don’t know it, but one day they, too, will be grateful for that, and for a whole host of other wonderful things about their father.