Little Hands, Big Trouble

My hands. They do their own thing.

I must’ve been four when I hoisted myself up onto a chair and turned on the iron. Everyone was asleep, so I thought I could get away with it. Things were going well until I started ironing my baby sister's bib – covered with plastic on one side.

A hole formed. Oh-oh. Busted!

Apparently, I didn't stop there.

At five, I watched Uncle Felix shave a long bar of soap with a blade. I can still see him seated at the corner of the dining table, his hands moving left to right in a regular rhythm. Soap curled and peeled away. I was mesmerized. When I asked if I could do what he was doing, he replied, “No.” He collected the soap curls into a plastic bucket, later to be used for laundry.

Perla long soap bar

Then I spied him shaving soap another time. After he walked away momentarily, I couldn’t help myself. I scrambled onto his chair, reached for the blade, and gingerly pressed the sharp edge onto the bar of soap. Left to right, left to right.

I made curls – plenty of curls – and I was delighted.

When Uncle returned, I wasn’t reprimanded. He chuckled in amusement. But he also ridiculed me.

A short time later, I came down with the mumps. I still remember the discomfort of swollen glands, my neck engorged as I looked up at Uncle. “Do you know why you got mumps?” he asked. “It’s because you shaved the bar of soap.” I believed him. Thus ended my soap-curling career.

Looking for something else to occupy my tiny little hands, I turned to writing.

I used a fat black marker and wrote my name, along with my siblings’ names (all seven of us), on the back of our light blue vinyl desk chair. We each had five names (Mom said she wanted saints to watch over us), so I ended up writing a novel. Yo, I was practicing penmanship! Did I mention the chair was brand new? Yep. And the marker? Permanent. Uh-huh.

And then there was the time I scribbled all over my older brother’s report card. Jesuit school. He got into big trouble, which meant I got into big trouble… sigh!

Busy hands are happy hands.

Now, if only they threw more coloring books my way and plopped me on a corner somewhere, everyone would’ve been just fine. 😚