Growing up, nonsensical comments were not encouraged. My parents were patient to a fault and it wasn’t them who critiqued and threw out the put-downs: it was older siblings and elder cousins who did that. Opinions, if offered, better be well thought out, researched and intelligent. Or else.
Yes, I learned, early on, that open ended questions, ponderings and musings were best kept to myself. Especially if they were on the silly or under-developed side.
Sharing thoughts openly was a sure way to get myself teased by the more worldly cousins and siblings. Teased and labeled and branded as one thing: s-t-u-p-i-d.
So it was with delight that I relate the exchange that took place in our kitchen Monday night.
Back story: Youngest boy is taking college classes and working part-time at a local deli. He’s had his ups and he’s had his downs but, for the most part, he’s getting into the job and the classes and handling it all of it quite well.
So, in the midst of our crazy Saturday, came a phone call. From him. When he should be at work. Instantly, I went into my calm & focused Mother mode.
“Hi there. What’s that? Why do you need that information? What do you mean you’ve had an accident?” said me.
In the smallest non-calm voice possible.
I could feel the color leave my face me as he told his Readers-Digest version. Customers in a hurry. Many orders. Working the slicer. Thumb. A lot of blood. Emergency room.
Oh geez, I thought. Visions of the worst overcame me.
But, he bounded in later that evening, with his Looney-tunes sized thumb, wrapped in layers of gauze and bandages, carrying his pain meds … and a sandwich. Hey, the kid’s gotta eat; we just had to smile.
As much as he tried to put us at ease, I’m not kidding when I say that thing looks like a Halloween prop. And changing the bandages has been daunting. Not because of the gore, but because of the pain. His pain. That old parental adage rings true, “when they hurt, we hurt.”
Still, he’s managing and handling things in his matter-of-fact way and, somewhere in there, we have learned to let him. Yes there’s a lot of discomfort, no there was nothing to stitch, yes there’s gonna be a doozy of a scar and no, he can’t work anytime soon.
So it is with a smile that I tell you this story and it goes as follows:
“Hey Mom, do we have any left-handed oven mitts?”
“Um .. no, flip it over.”
“Huh, wouldja look at that!”
And with that laughter came something even better: Relief.
Relief that he’s gonna be OK.
Relief because it could have been sooo much worse.
Relief that the only family he knows is one where it’s perfectly normal to ask about left-handed oven mitts.
How about you? Can you relate? Did your family encourage or squelch self-expression?