To sum up my life as a dad of two little girls and all the challenges that come along with it, I can boil it all down into one sentence: Winnie the Pooh nearly killed me.
I know it may seem far-fetched but I have the jagged scar up and down my arm to prove it. Winnie the Pooh landed me in an ambulance, in an emergency room, and in a frantic race to save my hand. Needless to say, I hate Winnie the Pooh.
He was a cute, square, porcelain piggy bank. Each day I'd come home from work and pull out my pocket change from the day—I still do. It was a tradition for little Alicia and myself and now a tradition for me, Alicia and little Andreya.
I'd come home from work, we'd lay out the money, and put it in the piggy bank for college. It might be fifty cents or a dollar, whatever it was, I had convinced myself it could be Alicia's college future. Alicia was still learning words when she could already point out George Washington on a dollar bill or Abe Lincoln on a five. It was our little bonding moment with the piggy bank.
I came home from work at 6:30 one evening and laid out that money with Alicia. We had the change on the plush white carpet of our little postage stamp-sized house. We had Winnie the porcelain piggy bank on the floor also. Alicia carefully put the first two coins in the bank.
I then reached across the floor, leaning my right hand on the bank to grab the other coins when I felt the most incredible jolt of pain ever. Immediately I'm yelling for my wife Gloria to call 911. Alicia is crying. I'm spurting blood across the house. Gloria is the only one who's calm. Andreya is still strapped into the high chair crying as she watches. And murderous Winnie is laying on the floor, shattered in pieces.
Winnie the Pooh literally tore through my arm—cutting the tendon, the artery, the nerves, and leading me on a six-month adventure of surgery, rehab, and retraining, to learn how to write again. I was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, shooting blood at the EMTs. ... And all along trying to keep conscious while I explained how Winnie the Pooh had done this to me. I actually had a moment when I told EMTs I didn't want to die... didn't want to lose my hand.
Doctors saved my hand but not all the feeling in it. I went through weeks of not being able to lift Alicia and the baby Andreya, not being able to hug them because I had a Frankenstein cast on my hand. I went through wild hand treatments where my arm was dipped in hot wax, or zapped with electricity to get the nerve and feeling back. All the while, I had to explain to the hand therapist and others how it was Winnie the Pooh who had done this to me. I couldn't button pants or tie shoes or do diapers (didn't mind that one). For a while I wrote with my left hand. I relearned how to write with my right.
Three years later, the scar is still fresh up my arm, and around my wrist, and up the palm of my hand where Winnie shattered. I type with the tip of my index finger, can't hold a coffee mug in my right hand, and will often randomly drop things, because I still don't have all the feeling back. I went through two years of battles with the insurance company over treatments, costs, and premiums, all the while trying to explain how Winnie the Pooh did this to me.
We could never fully clean the blood up, and even months later would find little spatter spots around the house like we were living in some episode of CSI. We eventually moved out. Needless to say, the girls have never had another porcelain piggy bank, instead they have two of those large, cardboard crayon piggy banks that are so flimsy, the bottoms won't even stay on. But at least they can't shatter, maybe just give us a nasty paper cut and that's about it.
I had the shame and fame of having to go back to work and explain how Winnie the Pooh nearly killed me. Many folks still find it funny. Others have suggested that I just finally make up a better and more plausible story, like I was mugged and attacked with a tire iron. But honesty is important, and the girls and I know the truth about Winnie.
It got me to thinking about the scars in our lives. Just how many moms and dads have scars solely because of their kids—whether it be trying to put together 50 pages of instructions for an IKEA bed and skinning your knuckles so bad you cry, or getting run over by your girls' out of control princess bicycle, or getting clawed by the family dog that the kids talked you into adopting. The scars, both physical and emotional, define our time as parents just as much as those little marks we etch onto our kids' walls or in their closet to keep track of just how tall they've gotten.
And I learned a very valuable Daddy lesson from the entire experience: Saving for college could kill you.