Friday, August 01, 2014
On a good day,when Mother Nature was formulating innovative strategies for child protection, she came up with a particularly enlightened idea, installing at the center of each and every child, a personal scab maker, skilled in the rapid repair of skinned knees, scraped elbows, and the tender tips of tiny noses. She did not neglect me in this regard, and in my elementary school days, my personal scab maker worked overtime. In fact, her best repairs were made while I was sleeping. I used to marvel at the way she worked, from the outside in, constructing first the hardshell of protection then smoothing the tender new skin underneath with the precision that would be the envy of the best tdrywall taper. She did her work quietly, asking no assistance, supported only by an occasional kiss, or a bandage on the very first day. It is possible that she worked harder than the personal scab makers possessed by my classmates. I do not know if this was true. But the adults in my life believed it to be true and it concerned them deeply. The source of their concern appeared to be my glasses, large spectacles with hard plastic frames that tended to shatter on impact. I dutifully put them on every morning and took them off at bedtime. It was something I had been doing for years, never once questioning the reason for them. School was the place where the glasses all seemed to break. . A clean break would be mended with glue. A jagged break might be fixed with tape. Any fracture more complicated than that required the services of an optician, a mysterious man in the city whose services could only be procured after the exchange of money. My parents, I was assured, we're not made of money. The adults in my life approached the problem with differing solutions. The teachers instructed me not to run on the school grounds. Applied to a different person, this idea might have protected my glasses. But these teachers were dealing with a tiny extrovert who had almost no vision and only sighted classmates to play with. I was, by nature, an obedient child. But even the most compliant children have their limits. My parents dealt with the situation in a different way. 'You will have to do without glasses for a while,' they gravely declared. And so I went without. Today I toast my scab maker, as much for her successes as for her failing. For if she had been willing to repair my glasses, her perfect labors performed at no cost, I would probably still be paying for the repair of useless spectacles.