I am lying on my back on the kitchen floor and staring up into the angry, yet concerned, face of my mom. I am overwhelmed by the anger in her eyes, which (fortunately) serves as an analgesic of sorts and shields me from the pain of my throbbing forehead.
“Ruby, are you going to take her to the hospital? That looks like it might need stitches…” sounds the worried voice of a neighbor. The neighbor’s voice grows closer and suddenly her face looms into my field of vision as she joins the small cadre of spectators hovering over my small body in the sweltering heat of a Midwestern summer’s day. “I’m not taking that fool anywhere,” my mother, a nurse, responds with tightly controlled anger as she deftly cleans the small slit in my eyebrow and binds the wound with a butterfly bandage.
I close my eyes, and the memory of that day plays across the back of my eyelids, a picture show complete with stereo surround. And as I watch the moving picture of my memory and rub my index finger across the evidence of that day (a small scar in the middle of my right eyebrow), I smile a lopsided grin of pleasure. For you see, I have grown to love that scar. It is a pleasant reminder of a delightfully, adventure filled childhood. It all started with the denial of that simple pleasure called ice cream.
My mom loves ice cream – she has for as long as I can remember. And many years ago, on a hot summer day, she was sitting at the kitchen counter reading the daily newspaper as she snacked on a HUGE bowl of ice cream. BOY did it look cool and refreshing to my heat worn little body. And so, as three year olds are prone to do, I said “Can I have some too?” To which my mom responded, “No.” She also mumbled some nonsense about my already having had a Popsicle, which in my mind had absolutely nothing to do with the current request. And so, I promptly launched into the temper tantrum dance. You know the one where you jump up and down and loll you head back and forth on your neck like a bobble-head doll while crying bloody Mary?
Now this occurred in the early 70’s, and my parent’s kitchen was equipped with one of those built in oven inserts set into the wall along with the cabinetry. There was a set of cabinets above the oven insert and one below, and the lower cabinet was about the height of my three year old body. As I threw myself with gusto into “the dance,” I ran into the cabinet and neatly smacked my head on the bottom corner of the oven door. It gets kind of hazy after that, but the next thing I knew I opened my eyes to see my mom’s angry face looming above me.
Fortunately, my injuries were not severe and from this adventure I learned early to eschew the temper tantrum dance. And though none of us laughed at the time, this (my earliest memory) has inspired much laughter at family get-togethers over the years.