November 9, 1984
“Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” exclaimed Russell as he raced across the house to the backdoor.
Russell wasn’t excited because his dad was bringing him a toy or candy or any kind of treat. That was just Russell’s usual nightly greeting for his father.
“Hi, Daddy. Let me see your hands.” That was usual also. Lately, Russell has been very concerned about the condition of Bob’s hands.
“Any scratches today, Daddy? Let me see.”
Four-year-old Russell didn’t even give Bob the chance to clean the dirt and oil off his hard working hands before going over every bruised knuckle and scratched finger himself.
“How did you do that, Daddy? How did you get that big scratch?” Russell asked as he pointed to a newly formed mark.
Bob had to think back through his day for an answer that would satisfy Russell. White lies never worked.
“I got that working on the combine this morning. The pry bar slipped,” answered Daddy.
“Really! What was wrong with the combine?”
“A rock was picked up and jammed the cylinder.”
Russell seemed satisfied with the explanation and continued his hand examination of Bob’s left hand. “You’ve got a purple fingernail, Daddy. Did you get that today? Did you get the purple fingernail when the rock was in the combine? Huh? Huh?”
“No Russie. I did that this afternoon hitching the wagon up to the tractor.”
“I got one too, Daddy! Just like you. See.” Russell proudly held up his left hand and displayed his index finger. It was the same yucky purple color as his father’s.
“Russell, how in the world did that happen?”
“It got caught in the door when Rachel and I were playing.”
“You’ve got to be more careful, Russie. You could lose a finger that way.”
“You, too,” Russell said, and then added. “Aren’t you careful, Daddy?”
That question stumped Bob for a moment. He looked down at his own hands and shook his head. “I guess I haven’t always been careful. But from now on we’ll both be careful. Okay?”
Our little son looked serious as he nodded his head. “Okay, Daddy. We’ll both be careful.”
I’d like to say that from that day on father and son lived happily ever after without nick or cut. But that would be a fairytale. We live in the real world.
Some good did come of that conversation though. Both father and son were made to think about working habits. And somehow I think it was the father who learned the most from his little son.