Saturday, February 23, 2013

When daughter's "Daddy" has a certain ring

“I love you, Daddy,” my five year old daughter said for no apparent reason. I smiled. It was nice to hear – genuine, heartfelt, and with no other intention than a spontaneous burst of love. But I knew from experience it wouldn’t be that way for long.

When my now 18 year old daughter was 14, she and I were sitting on the couch watching a sitcom where a man and a woman were whispering sweet innuendos to each other throughout the entire show. I sat there nervously hoping my daughter wasn’t getting half of it while fearing the other half she was.

In my peripheral vision, I could see her fiddling with her left hand. “What’s wrong with your hand,” I asked.
She held up her left hand. Her third finger was red and the swelling was overtaking a ring. “It’s stuck, Daddy,” she whined. Her use of the loaded word “Daddy” immediately disarmed me – a perfected signature move on her part – turning my readied reprimand into sympathetic understanding. No such buzzword works on my wife, however, who, from practically the other side of the house knew there was a problem.

“What did you do to your finger,” my wife yelled as she walked into the living room. “Why would you even try to put that thing on? It’s clearly too small for you.”

My daughter then regaled us with a tale of a ring given to her by a best friend in elementary school. She had always loved this ring, she continued. In fact, according to my daughter, this ring could be considered one of the greatest rings in the world.

“But it went on so easily,” she insisted.

My first instinct was to just forcefully yank the bugger off, but tears began to flow and that was that.
Now there are many homeopathic methods to get a stuck ring off of a finger: hold hand up high above heart; apply ice or soak in ice water; apply generous amounts of lubricants including, but certainly not limited to soap, hand lotion, petroleum jelly, olive oil. I’ve heard of people spraying the finger with window cleaner, wrapping the finger in masking tape, or even using hemorrhoid cream.

When the raised hand and ice did not work, we decided to move on to soaps and salves. So my daughter, her mother, and I made our way up to the bathroom where the light was better and where it is more fitting to deal with issues of health, wellness, and stuck things.

Unfortunately, no amount of unguents helped the ring give way. I began to rummage through the medicine cabinet hoping for an idea when I came across a pair of fingernail clippers. Sure, we could cut it off. I began snipping away at the metal. This would work, but it was going to take a long time.

“Wait here,” I said and jetted down the stairs to my little space underneath the basement steps where I keep my tools.

The first thing I reached for was my hacksaw. But I wasn’t sure exactly how I would be able to maneuver it without some collateral damage. I thought of carrying up my power circular saw, just as a joke of course, but I figured she was already experiencing enough stress, why add to it. I finally decided on a couple of pliers and a pair of sheet metal cutting shears.

As I was coming up the steps, I could hear my daughter begging my wife to hurry with the fingernail clippers before “Daddy gets back.” Now the word “Daddy” rang like a profanity.

By the time I made it back to the bathroom, my wife had clipped her way about three quarters of the way through the ring. “Just let Mommy finish,” my daughter pleaded. Oh, now it’s “Mommy,” is it?

I pulled out the sheet metal shears, took her trembling hand in mine, and quickly snipped thought the rest of the ring. I tossed my wife a pair of pliers and together with a second pair I had, we pried open the ring and it was off.

“Thank you, Daddy,” she said in the tone I had now become accustomed to hear mostly before the phrase, “can I have…”

I looked at my five year old daughter, appreciating the moment all the more because I know just how fleeting it will be. I then gave her a great big hug. “Daddy loves you, too.”

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