How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Where Do Callouses Come From?

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Finn and I walked through the park holding hands, like manly men often do, and spoke of the world. “Ambling” is probably a better description of how we proceeded but I’m in no mood to be poetic. I’ll leave that to the lonely, crying men.

Having barely walked the long expanse of a trail leading away from the playground and toward the sandy pit where the gymnastics equipment lay, Finnegan stopped and tugged my hand. We weren’t in search of anything in particular and no destination in mind, but yanked on my arm again with some force.

“Dada, what happened?”

“What do you mean, my boy?” I asked my question as plainly as you just read the line yourself.

“Wha happened to yore hand?”

He pulled on and flipped my palm in his small, stout hand.

He was referring to the rough patches at the base of each finger on my palm, those circular pads of raised skin. I’d earned callouses there from years of lifting, climbing and carrying things. All he’d known about, to this point, were bruises, scrapes, cuts and scabs on his own tiny body. And the occasional rash, of course. These “owwies” were a new species.

“They aren’t owwies, buddy. Dada got them from working.”

He didn’t understand why something that looked like an injury would come from working and didn’t continually ache or sear. He kept asking if they hurt, and I told him no, but he proceeded, “Did they hurt when you get them?”

“Some of them, but sometimes when we get hurt we get stronger, right? We learn.”

I muzzled the notion that they’d helped me when I used them with clenched fists. I withheld that some women like them and some don’t, as well as the fact that they peel away when you subject the rough skin to vigorous hand-washing. I also didn’t fill him in that typing on the computer all day doesn’t give you callouses.

In all, we counted 12 hardened patches of skin on my hands. Four of them from music. Eight of them from gripping things tightly. All of them originating from a life where I’ve labored to be more of a participant than a spectator.

“I have dohs too?”

“Finn, your hands will grow and get stronger every day. You’ve got good hands. You make ‘em whatever you want them to be, okay?”

“Kay.”

I want my boy to know the value of working with his hands and mind, to know that he can earn his scars, both inside and out, and wear those that suit him. Or scrub away those that don’t.

I want him to know that carrying things and people can mean building callouses, but they should never harden so much he can’t open his hands.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you today by LifeLock, a leader in identity theft protection. This post is my own opinion and my crazytalk doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of Lifelock or its staff.

20 Comments

20 Responses to “Where Do Callouses Come From?”

  1. Bass string callouses. On men, they get the ladies. On girls, they’re just sort of weird.

    Charlie, you poet. You amble whenever you want.

  2. neal says:

    Can’t help thinking of that scene in The NeverEnding Story where the Rock Giant is sitting, despondent, looking at his hands: “They look like good, strong hands…”

    Appreciated this post. I’ve totally got to get my butt off my computer to teach my little girl about hard work.

  3. Avara says:

    “I want my boy to know the value of working with his hands and mind, to know that he can earn his scars, both inside and out, and wear those that suit him. Or scrub away those that don’t.

    I want him to know that carrying things and people can mean building callouses, but they should never harden so much he can’t open his hands.”

    You move me all the time. This is so beautiful! I love you.

  4. Kriston Glasnovic says:

    In no mood to be poetic? Psssh! I call BS! (That was a wonderful story with a beautiful message.)

  5. This is really awesome. I think Finn’s going to like having things like this to read one day. Keep being a poet.

  6. Mother Duck says:

    Good post! My husband has some scary scars that he considers are each chapters of their own that tell the overall story of his life.

  7. the grumbles says:

    you are such a secret mushball.

  8. JeninCanada says:

    *sniff* Somethin’ in my eye! Thanks for sharing!

  9. WeirdFish says:

    Musician indeed. Well done, sir.

  10. karen says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for such beautiful writing.

  11. Laurie says:

    and then I turned into mush..sweet.

  12. Aaron says:

    No offense but your hand looks that of a child’s compared to my callused hand lol. I even have calluses on most of my knuckles and calluses on top of calluses.

    • charlie says:

      No offense. Do you work with your hands for a living?

      • Aaron says:

        Yeah, flooring installer of all types, so my hands are constantly mangled so that would explain why. Not trying to insult your “manhood” just was expecting an equally mangled hand in the pic I guess.

        • charlie says:

          No insult taken. My hands have been in various states of disrepair. Recently I shot a car commercial and they said I had to get my hands worked on because they would be on camera. They don’t look as mangled as usual.

          And I don’t do flooring. That’s brutal work.

          Did work doing roofing though. Ugh.

  13. Emma says:

    That brought a tear to my eye. Loved it.

  14. Dominic says:

    Great thoughts. I think the same way. My little man has not asked me about mine, not yet anyway… Mine are mostly from biking and building dirt trails and jumps outdoors. Love the story and the message.

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