“I’m not! Geez!”
He says this as his fingers hover greedily over the button that pops the umbrella open. It’s one of those spring loaded things that expands from very small to full glory at the touch of the button.
Yesterday was an odd one. Noah was suspended from school for one day for “accidentally” spitting on a teacher he was arguing with. Projectile splutter that was the unintended consequence of his angry refusal to listen to the adults in his life.
“Noah, you’ll either bust the umbrella or it’ll open suddenly and hurt you. ”
“But nothing. This is exactly why you get in trouble. Useless arguments against someone trying to help you.”
“Ok, sure sure…”. He moves away, out the wide sliding doors of the grocery store.
As I conclude the transaction at the counter and bag the food, I see him, outside, holding the umbrella inches from his face as he analyzes the mechanism. He’s itching to push the button.
Suddenly, the umbella opens, the spring loaded stalk explodes into his nose with such violence that his small bowling ball of a head snaps back.
I can see the shock in his eyes. Before the pain. He looks through the plate glass window to see whether I saw.
A perfect I told you so moment.
Instead, I look away, pretending I didn’t see. When I come out, he’s trying hard not to cry. An angry red welt on his cheek is screaming that it must have really hurt.
“It’s raining dad. That’s why, you know, I opened the umbrella. ”
“Yeah. But there’s hardly a few drops. Why don’t you close it.”
“Ehhhh…here dad. You should like close it because I don’t want to break it. It’s new.”
He hands me the offending object. He’s trying to preserve his dignity. His eyes are full but not overflowing with tears.
“Good choice, kid.”
I take the umbrella.
I’ll have plenty more opportunities to humiliate him. For now, his throbbing face is a better reminder than anything I could say.