I bought the above product for Brody as consolation for him not having the thumb surgery. (Because if he had had the surgery, he'd be in a cast and unable to take baths much less use finger paints in the bath).
The other night we used it for the first time. As I was opening it, I noticed for the first time that the place where you poured the paint was the yellow plastic hand in the picture above. The perfectly formed five finger plastic hand.
My first reaction was a visceral recoiling - and the requisite anger, once again, that my son does not have radius bones, 8 fingers and 2 thumbs.
Then I had an epiphany of sorts: so what.
I had an English teacher in high school, Miss Smith, and whenever we wrote an essay, she made us include the "so what" of the subject book. As in, what is the higher purpose or symbolic point of this work of fiction? What does it really mean?
In the bathroom, I looked at the plastic hand, and I finally was able to say, So What.
I tried to figure out what it really means that Brody doesn't have thumbs right now. Or that he only has 4 fingers on each hand or that his arms are and will be shorter than most other peoples' arms or that his hands will probably continue to want to grow inwards at 90 degrees instead of out at 180 degrees.
Here is my answer: it doesn't mean anything. There is no greater purpose or nefarious point about it. There is no "so what" inherent in missing radius bones and thumbs.
It is just that. Missing bones and fingers.
And nothing more.
Which led me to back down from my imminent moment of despair when pouring paint into the yellow plastic hand.
So what if he's missing these things? So what? No one's life is absolutely perfect. These things do not define him. The important things, the things that really and truly matter, are already woven into Brody's life.
He will never ever doubt that he is loved. He is happy and healthy, thank God. He is safe. He has, at the age of 2, more wit and intelligence than some adults I have known. He has eyelashes that are almost an inch long and dimples that break my heart. He has already enriched this earth with his very existence and presence.
As a result, there is no way that I can acknowledge the greatness of Brody and simultaneously lament something as insignificant, in the grand scheme, as missing two bones and two digits.
And so I will not.