It’s guy night at the Woodlief house. Wife is gone, me and the boys are fending for ourselves. I’m making chili. Caleb stands beside me at the counter as I chop vegetables. He sees me pick up a fat jalapeno pepper.
“Ooo, Dad, don’t make it too spicy.”
I launch into a disquisition, sounding very much like Clark Griswold, about how to regulate the heat from a pepper by carving out the seeds. “You see son, it’s the seeds that carry the heat. So I’ll carve away the insides like this, and there you go. The flavor of the pepper without the burn. But don’t ever, ever, ever put your fingers in your eyes after you’ve been handling a jalapeno. Because that would be just plain foolish.”
All the vegetables and spices now added, I saunter to the bathroom to wash my face. And promptly put my fingers in my eyes. The pain, the pain, the godawful searing pain.
This is my life as a parent. Trying to remember what to warn them against while there’s still time, and forgetting to follow my own advice.