Cucumbers. To some, a healthy and delicious addition to a salad. To me, a reminder of my own humanity.
I was a very precocious child and I would always insist on doing things for myself -- I was a big girl and I did not need help from anyone. One afternoon, after a long day of counting, singing about the ABC’s, and of course recess, I arrived home from the first grade, and I was famished. My siblings were in their rooms hanging out with their friends and pretending to do their homework, and I was temporarily left to my own devices. I wanted a snack, so I started digging through the pantry cabinet as well as the refrigerator searching for something that looked good. I grabbed a cucumber out of the crisper drawer and searched for a knife. My parents kept the sharp knives out of my reach, but like most kids, I found my own way.
Looking back now, I probably should not have grabbed a butter knife, but it came with my lunch box, so I figured it would be okay. I washed the vegetable, prepared my work station, and started to slice. I found this quite difficult, so I started to apply more pressure. The cucumber’s waxy peel caused the knife to slip, and it cut through my left thumb. My brother, sister, and mom quickly ran into the kitchen after hearing my loud screams. There was blood everywhere and I was sobbing. My mom wrapped up my thumb with a washcloth trying to slow the bleeding. Of course these things never happen at a convenient time. Our car was being serviced, so we had no transportation. The two of us rushed over to the neighbor’s house pleading for a ride to the emergency room. When we arrived at the hospital thirty minutes later, the staff fussed over me and rushed me to the back to get stitches. As the doctor put in all five stitches, the nurses made jokes to distract me, saying at least I was cutting something healthy. When my stitches were finished, they bandaged my thumb and gave me a coloring book, and we headed toward home.
That day was action-packed and extremely overwhelming, especially for a 6-year-old. I now have a permanent reminder of that day etched as a scar on my thumb, but when I see the raised mark, I do not think about the pain or the hospital visit. I think, instead, of the important lesson that I learned. There were three other people at home with me on that afternoon. It would have been easy to ask for help; by trying to be independent and doing it myself, I ended up getting hurt. No matter how small a task, we should not be afraid to ask for help. It does not make us weak, incompetent, or inept. It could save time and undue stress, or in my case, a trip to the emergency room.
I know now that I should not do everything by myself; I believe it takes much more strength to ask for help than it does to stubbornly do everything alone.