My daughter’s head is full of rocks. And so are her pockets. She often comes home with pockets full of rocks collected from the playground or side of the road. Most of the time I find this charming—until my bare foot finds a pointy one in the living room carpet or I find a handful collected at the bottom of our washing machine.
When I was her age, I had a rock collection. We lived along a dirt road, and often I found pieces of rose or smoky quartz sticking out from the road cut alongside the drainage ditch. Everyone in my family knew I was crazy about pretty rocks. My brother gave me a coffee table book titled Gemstones and wrote in the front cover that it was “for the girl with rocks in her head”.
Recently as I watched my daughter fascinated with her own rocks, I remembered a visit from one of my adult cousins and her husband, who is a geologist. I was close to my daughter’s age now and so excited because I was going to be spending the exploring the rock shops of North Georgia with someone who shared my love of rocks.
That morning as I waited for my cousins, I paced the house. I pulled back the curtain every few minutes to see if they had arrived. I peppered my mom with questions and facts about rocks that she probably didn’t want to hear. Then my dog started barking—probably at a squirrel or a frog. I yelled through the window for him to “Be Quiet” and stomped my foot. My foot hit one of the panes of the bay window in the dining room and broke it.
My Mom went ballistic—probably in part because I had been annoying her and in part because I just broke a window. Mom began a worried tirade clucking like a wet hen.
“Now your father is going to have to fix this, as if he doesn’t have enough to do…I hope it doesn’t rain before he fixes it…If the carpet gets wet it will be ruined…He won’t have time to fix it today…”
I felt awful. I had never broken or damaged anything before. No baseballs through the window, no wrecked bicycles, nothing. So I had no idea what the consequences would be when my Daddy found out that I broke the window. I knew what I had read in books or seen on TV or in the comics, but I had no experience of my own. I did, however, know that my Mom was upset.
Her anger had cooled by the time my cousins arrived, and she sent me on my way, but I did not enjoy myself. I worried all day. My cousins offered to buy me some of the gemstones that we saw that day, but I wouldn’t let them. I had absolutely no joy because I couldn’t forget that broken window pane.
That night at dinner my Dad was sitting at the head of the table, and I was sitting at the end opposite him. He looked up at me and winked. “Seems to be a cool breeze at my feet tonight.”
That was all that was said, ever.
That’s the way it was in our house when I was growing up. Mom clucked and fussed and lectured, and most of the time that kept trouble at bay—either I actually heard and heeded her words, or concern that Mama wouldn’t be happy (and the knowledge that I would have to live with the manifestation of her displeasure) kept me from making a bad decision.
But accidents did happen. I broke windows. I had a really tough year in school. I wrecked my car. I ground looped the airplane. For those big “disasters”, Mom worried and lectured, but dad consoled, comforted and fixed—with a wink, a hug and the reassurance that nothing was broken that couldn’t be repaired.
That’s just what Dads do, and we love them for it.
© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.