This was previously published on The Real Matt Daddy.
I had put it off until the last minute. I was twelve years old, and I had volunteered to help construct a banner for our next meeting. My fellow Royal Rangers (a Christian alternative to Boy Scouts) were counting on me to have the frame of this banner finished so that they could attach the leather work that someone else was completing. I was hacking away at some wooden sticks, attempting to shape them into some sort of frame complete with lashing and all of the spectacular knots I could tie. About an hour before we were going to leave for our meeting, the bow saw I was using jumped the groove and bounced across the fatty part of my hand between my left thumb and index finger ripping it to shreds.
I didn’t cry. I just stared in disbelief until the pain finally set in. Then I ran into the house where my dad was getting ready to leave. “What happened?” he asked. “I cut it with the bow saw … do I have to go to the hospital?” I had never had stitches before. That’s not exactly true. I did get stitches when I was three years old, after I fell off of a rock while on my first fishing trip with my dad and grandpa. But I didn’t remember that happening, so it was all folklore to me. This was real. This was an emergency room-quality cut of the hand. For being such a nasty cut, it didn’t bleed very much. But I could see a bit of fatty tissue sticking out of my hand, and that seemed like something that would require medical attention. My father did not share the same concern.
“I’m not going to the hospital to wait three hours just to get you stitches. Let’s clean it up,” my dad said confidently. He then proceeded to clean my wound, fashion two butterfly stitches out of medical tape, and wrap up my hand with enough gauze that I felt like an offensive lineman. Then he helped me finish cutting the piece of wood that caused this mess, and we were off to church.
I didn’t realize how important that moment was to me at the time. It seemed like it was just my dad being himself. When I found out that I was going to be a father, I tried to think of some of the things that I really appreciate about my dad, and that story came back to me. My dad could always figure things out. He never graduated high school, but he’s the smartest person I know—not because he can quote facts and figures, but because he just knows stuff that dads are supposed to know.
That moment taught me a lot about self-sufficiency. My dad never expected anyone to give him anything. He figured things out on his own. My dad works smarter and harder than anyone I know, and I appreciate that so much about him. I want to teach my daughter how to be self-sufficient and think through her problems, not just run to me for answers before trying to figure things out. When my dad stitched up my hand with nothing but medical tape, he thought he was just fixing a wound. What he didn’t know is that he was teaching his son how to take care of himself and face this world with confidence.
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Image of teenager two together saw courtesy of Shutterstock