Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with.
It’s said that in the old days, a father would pass his craft down to his son. And it’s said that in passing down that craft, something invisible passed down also, something having to do with being a man. I believe this.
Consider my hands. They know two crafts. They can type. They can perform the myriad tasks of anesthesia–inserting an intravenous line, say–that are necessary to my day job.
Nick loves to watch my fingers zipping over the keyboard. I type without looking at my hands. Both he and Nora regard it as a kind of sorcery that what appears on the screen is plain English and not jibberish.
Nick types very fast also, randomly. We sometimes make a game of finding words among the strings of letters that emerge.
“Do you know,” I said to him once, “That if a monkey sits down at a typewriter and types for a google number of years without stopping, he’ll type all the Harry Potter books?”
He considers, then nods.
“Yeah, they could,” he says. “It’s possible. In real life they could do that.”
Nick is also interested in my anesthesia hands.
“Tell me about your cases,” he’ll say, when I get home from work.
This is problematic for me, because I don’t want to encourage him to be a doctor. But I tell him, because I want him to know that his father does things with his hands.
Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t teach Nick my trade. An operating room is no place to bring your child. If Nick is ever to enter one other than as a patient, he must find his own way.
I have a tackle box filled with anesthesia gear. Manual blood pressure cuff, various airway devices, and so on. Occasionally, Nick asks me to take something out so he can examine it.
“How does this work?” he’ll say, cocking a laryngoscope blade.
“Just like that. It’s for looking in the mouth.”
“You put a tube in the mouth?”
“Dada, can you bring me home a tube?”
So I do. And out of the mysterious artifacts of my trade, he manufactures games. Endotracheal tubes make excellent bath toys. Syringes (without needles) make devastating squirt guns.
My work is a world both rich and strange to Nick. It’s plain that from it, Nick needs to receive something from me. And I need to give.
We do what we can.
. . .
You might also enjoy:
Working With Your Hands — A man muses on his work, his hands, and his dad. From Urban Workbench, a lovely blog about urban design.
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A Guest post on Daily Plate of Crazy:
About two weeks ago, Big Little Wolf, a writer I admire, asked me if I’d like to contribute a guest post for her blog, Daily Plate of Crazy. I picked a topic that I hadn’t written about before: my mother. You can see the result here:
Big Little Wolf is a single mom raising her two teen age boys. If you look around her blog, you’ll discover, as I did, keen intelligence and shrewd observation of women and men. I’d call your attention to one post in particular:
This piece contains some of the strongest writing I’ve come across of late, in print or on the web. It’s vintage Big Little Wolf. I hope you enjoy reading her as much as I do.
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