I cut off mom's thumb.
Or so the story goes.
I was a toddler playing with scissors and she went to snatch them, but was caught in the line of fire.
According to family legend: the thumb was dangling by a tendon. Her appendage only works today thanks to some miracle of early-80s finger surgery.
But the scar looks like a flesh wound at best. I mean, how bad could it have really been? Mom didn't even press charges.
But, the myth's been made and it'll live forever as-is. I should be so lucky with my kid.
"Is this the guy who beat you up?" one nurse asks.
"There's the big, mean bully," another giggles.
"You poor thing."
I expected teasing after I phoned the doctor's office, explained my malady, and heard nothing but laughs between the receptionist's clenched teeth. The nurses are poking fun at me, not the baby.
He gets off the hook because he's chubby and cute and seven months old. His father became the butt of the doctor's office's jokes shortly after they opened this morning. "I think I have a broken nose," I said on the phone.
"How did that happen?" the receptionist asked.
"I'm pretty sure my baby broke it."
I'm no Olympic bench pressing judge or anything, but our baby is freakishly strong. He never really had that Jell-O-neck phase like most babies. He's pretty much always been able to hold his massive head (95th percentile, if you must know.) by himself. This itty-bitty brute force has recently translated into problems: the boy's rippled with baby muscles, but has no control over them.
My son is a tiny Kool-Aid Man and the world is his brick wall.
At least once a day he swings that massive skull back into my face or socks me in the eye or nose. It hurts. If a drunk buddy accidentally thumped me this hard, I'd clock his arm for good measure.
But he is 20 pounds of misguided musculature. Plus, he's chubby and cute. I can't get mad. Even when he makes daddy the story all the nurses will tell their significant others at dinner tonight: "This one guy came in today, get this, his baby kicked his ass!"
I'm not angry at them, either. My son did whoop my ass...more specifically, my nose. It stung to the touch, was red and swelling like famous lying marionettes. According to late night online medical searches, I owned a broken sniffer.
The doctor, thankfully, didn't get her degree from Web M.D.. "Well," she says, shining a light up my snout, while Daddy's Little Nose-Crusher sits on my lap. "It's not broken."
Relief should be flooding in, but instead I am disappointed.
With a flick of her penlight, the doc has ruined one of the best stories of my life. Equal, if not better, than scissoring off mom's thumb. I was already crafting the details of how the fruit of my loins shattered my nose. It would become the gold standard of Wensink Family Lore.
My nose is not a point of pride. It's the strangest feature on a face filled with Photoshop-like distortions. I was perfectly comfortable breaking it for the pleasure of constructing a thrilling Dad-Vs.-Lad saga.
Instead, I'm left with nothing but a nasal staph infection and a prescription for antibiotics. It's a shame, because those tall tales are all I'll have when my career as a house husband ends. I need good raw materials to build with.
So much family joy comes from exaggerating the truth.
Myth-making keeps memories fresh. Exaggeration vacuum seals our experience into a brick of astronaut ice cream. Nobody talks about the diapers and colic mom dealt with. We talk about her thumb. The story stays alive and reminds us of the insane sacrifice parents make. Something deep within me wanted that broken nose because nobody'll share anecdotes at future Thanksgivings about the gallons of Desitin I smeared across He-Man Jr's rump.
Even worse, we'll someday forget the endless blog posts documenting first steps, first words and first really weird poops. In all likelihood, the hundreds of JPEGs we've taken will grow outdated and unviewable one day. The baby's too little to remember and my wife is at work. So, these domestic tall tales are all I have to document time as a stay-at-home dad. With any luck those stories might just help me live forever. I mean, "staph infection" sounds pretty dangerous, right?
Maybe it's time to let a certain cute, chubby seven-month old play with scissors?
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