A while back, I posted one of my favorite quotes, from George MacDonald:
The business of the Universe is to make such a fool of you that you will know yourself for one, and so begin to be wise.
Life is just full of humbling experiences; I was reminded of another one recently, from back when my older girls were small. . .
Both of my 'big girls' were very much 'doll-playing' girls when they were little, and Molly and I were mildly indulgent of their fondness. We would buy them new doll clothes, and stuff like that, and it was just a lot of fun to watch them playing. We tried to draw a line at Barbies - the uber-buxom fashionista just wasn't the image we wanted to plant in our daughters' brains - but it was mostly futile; 'forbidden fruit is the sweetest', as the saying goes. Once they discovered that some of their friends had Barbies, they would just ask to play at their houses all the time.
Once, we were at the spring carnival that our parish school holds every spring, and there was a sale of several donated items. One of the men in the parish had donated some really nice hand-made wooden items, including a doll cradle that was the perfect size for our girls' favorite dolls, so we bought it, and the girls liked it, and had a lot of fun with it.
Over the course of many months of use, one of the 'rockers' on the cradle broke off. It didn't quite render the cradle unusable, but it was more of a hassle. So I, in my young-paternal earnestness, undertook to repair the broken rocker.
I should note, at this point, that I am mildly handy - I've built a few bookshelves from scratch, and a few other items, as well - but I sometimes lack confidence, and will stew over a project, sometimes for a considerable amount of time, while I try to figure out the best way to accomplish the goal. And this was one of those. The rocker had broken off in a way that was going to be tricky to re-attach it, and I thought about it for several days, before I finally decided that I would 'screw it and glue it'. And so, broken cradle in arms, I headed down into my basement workshop to do my Heroic-Dad thing.
Well, such things are never quite as simple to execute, as what they were in your mind when you first thought them up. I had an immediate problem of how to securely hold the cradle, so as to drill a hole for the screws, and how to hold the broken piece in place against the cradle body, so that the holes in the two pieces would be aligned. I jerry-rigged a kind of constraint, but it wasn't as 'secure' as it should have been, and when I started drilling the hole, it wound up being at a bit of an angle, rather than straight into the wood. So that, once I glued the broken piece in place, and started screwing the pieces together, the wood kind-of exploded, and rather than a not-quite-as-good-as-it-ought-to-be doll cradle, I had a completely unusable doll cradle, along with a small pile of splinters.
I was stunned. And frustrated. Really, really frustrated. It would be one thing, if it were an aberration for one of my projects to go catastrophically awry, but I'd had a few of them, in the preceding months, where my efforts at doing-it-myself so as to save a repair bill had resulted in an unrepairable mess, and even greater expense than the repair would have been. So, all of my frustration, mixed with anger at my own incompetency, just sort-of spontaneously erupted.
I stood there, staring at the mess, and just yelled, loudly and deliberately, "SHI-I-I-IT!"
And the next thing I heard, from behind me, sitting on the basement stairs, where she'd been quietly watching me work, was 2F (who was 2-3 years old at the time), saying, in all sweetness and innocence -
"Why say 'shit', Daddy?"
Ever feel like you just wanted to crawl between the cracks in the basement wall? I mean, here I was, looking for all the world like Heroic Dad, doing amazing, mysterious things to fix her doll cradle, and then, Huh - Why Say Shit, Daddy? Busting the cradle didn't make me feel nearly so bad as my sweet little daughter busting me for a non-deleted expletive. . .
Actually, Molly told me later (a wife with a Child Development degree can come in handy, sometimes) that 2F had no idea what the word was - she was only relating to the (all-too-apparent) emotion with which it was uttered. Daddy is upset about something; I wonder what he's so upset about? And so, she was only asking, in all innocence, why I was upset, so as to utter the excrementary expletive. The word itself was only a marker for 'Daddy is upset'. Which made me feel a little less like a jerk. A little.
It was still the least bit embarrassing, though. But, like most of my most embarrassing moments, it makes for a funny story, given sufficient passage of time. . .