With Father's Day just past and, for one day, all of our family attention on that person in the house who contributed to there being a family in the first place, it reminds me of a time when I didn't want my dad. This story is not a slam on my dad or anything, but rather reveals what is often going through a child's mind at times toward dad.
I was probably 5 or 6. Our house was a two story home with the bedrooms upstairs. My bedroom door was across the hall from my parent's. Like most kids I liked to sleep with my door open whereas my parent's liked their door closed at night. This created a situation for we kids that if you needed something or wanted something from either Mom or Dad during the night, you had to knock on their door and stand alone in the dark hallway illuminated only by a lone night-light and wait for someone to answer in your distress.
I was kept awake by a sunburn on my back. I had received it a day or two earlier and my back was itching. You know that itching, burning, feels-good-when-you-scratch until you stop scratching phase of a sunburn? I was dealing with that and I couldn't sleep. A perfect solution would be for my mom to come in and gently rub my back while I fell asleep. I didn't think it would take long for me to fall asleep and then, so I reasoned, it would be morning and with another day of healing I wouldn't need the help the following night. A perfect plan.
I mustered the courage to walk through my dark room toward the hallway light. I mustered the courage to stand alone in the hallway in front of the door that stood between me and sleep. And, I mustered the courage to ask out loud, "Mommy, I need your help. My back itches."
Those words sounded like I was speaking through a megaphone in the silence of the night. I waited. Nothing. Time seem to stand still. What should I do? Should I abort and slink back to bed? Should I actually knock on the door? No, I thought, that would be way to loud and I might wake my sister. I spoke again, "Mommy, my back is itching and I can't sleep."
Ah, footsteps! Help was on the way.
The doorknob rattled and the door swung open and there was…..Dad. He was standing in his boxers and t-shirt. "Sorry about your back," he said, "I'll help you."
There was no bargaining with Dad so I turned around and walked back to my bed. How did this happen? Had mom lost a bet? I thought I was pretty clear. I had heard myself in the hallway. I asked for Mom. Mom was gentle, Mom was always there for my hurts, Mom made everything better. Dang, this was a disaster.
Dad sat on the edge of my bed with me lying on my stomach and began to rub my back. He did a good job - not too rough, not too scratchy. "Hey," I thought, "maybe he's had a sunburn and knows what I'm feeling. Maybe he can handle this after all."
The next thing I knew it was morning. I had slept just fine. And Dad had done just fine. Thanks Dad for being there on that day and all the others when I've needed you. Happy Father's Day!