Back in the summer of 2014, I was watching my kids on our front porch. They were having a picnic lunch in shorts and t-shirts, oblivious to anything other than who was getting the larger share of peach slices. But I was watching them and I noticed something. Their shins, knees, elbows, arms and every other visible part were covered in bruises, scrapes, bumps, and scratches. They looked like they’d had a wrestling match with a bear in a blackberry patch while someone was throwing rocks at them.
“You two,” I said, and stopped. They looked up.
“You two have got to be the most scraped-up kids I’ve ever seen.”
They shrugged and went back to eating. I sat there thinking about how someone should write a blog about kids and the outdoors and call it The Scraped-Up Kid.
My daughter looks awful. She went sledding with a friend on Saturday, fell off, and scraped her face on a patch of ice. There’s no way to prevent that kind of thing, it just happens. When she got home, it didn’t look too bad, just a shiny patch on her cheekbone. We put some ointment on it, told her to sleep on the other side of her face, and forgot about it.
She called me into her room at 5 in the morning and told me it was hurting. I squinted at it in the dim light from her alarm clock and could see that it was scabbing up. “I think it’s just drying out and that’s making it sore,” I said soothingly. I put more ointment on it and went back to bed.
By Sunday morning her entire eye area was swollen and the scrape was …well. I won’t describe exactly what it looked like because I don’t want to upset those with delicate sensibilities, but the word “oozing” comes to mind. It was sore. It was ugly. We debated the merits of covering it, but feared the damage caused by removing a bandage from such delicate skin would outweigh any benefits.
“Am I going to have a black eye?” she asked.
“Probably,” I said.
“Am I going to have to go to school like this?”
“I think you should just tell everyone you got in a fight,” I said. She rolled her eyes.
We’ve been lucky so far. No broken bones, no emergency room visits, no serious sprains. Basically, nothing an ice pack, a bandage, and time couldn’t fix.
No one likes to see their kids get hurt. Each ice pack gets brought out regretfully. Their bruised shins make me wince. I feel badly that my daughter needed to go to school with a scabby face, but do I regret sending her off on a sledding adventure? Of course not. Do I regret any of the minor injuries that they incur in the pursuit of adventure? Of course not.
That’s what we do. We get hurt. We get up and keep going. She spent all of Sunday afternoon skating around on a frozen pond, scabby face and all.
That’s the life of a scraped-up kid.
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