My tomboy had her first real fall this past weekend. She’s fallen before, of course, but not like this. It was one of those moments where I thought we may have to head back to A&E, for stitches or broken teeth or worse. But thank goodness it was just a mouth full of dirt, a bruised cheek, a bloody chin and a dent to her pride.
You can’t watch your children all the time and at the moment when the incident occurred I was catching up with a friend and sipping on some coffee. Rachel was on a swing for heaven’s sake, not even a particularly high swing or one with sharp edges, a run- of-the-mill rubber swing in the shape of a horse. Who knows how she did it but she ended up with her foot caught above her head, and her mouth filled with dust. Every mother knows their child’s real cry of danger or fear or pain, and as soon as I heard it I was out of my seat and running.
Luckily there were many mothers there much more organised then me and they had first aid kits and Panado syrup and the most vital thing in these sorts of incidents: plasters with princesses on them. So she was quickly patched up and then begging to go out and play again. Children are nothing if resilient.
This week we’ve had the most disgusting scab to deal with, literally covering all of her dainty little chin. The scab is so big that its drawn stares in the supermarket and I feel like telling strangers that I’m normally quite a good mother, and she doesn’t walk around with war wounds all of the time. But what this has brought back so vividly is memories of my own scabs and that irresistible desire to pick at them. They’re itchy to start with, but there’s also that temptation to peel away a layer of dead skin and reveal that shiny pink new skin underneath.
Because of my days spent biking and bundu-bashing on the farm, I had lot of scabs to practice on and I became a bit of an expert. The skill lay in determining when the skin was ready to peel away: do it too early and you were left with blood and pain, do it at just the right time and you got that immense feeling of satisfaction. I don’t know when last I had a scab to pick at. My life behind a computer screen doesn’t really lend itself to scab creation and I’m not really into extreme sports. But it got me thinking that us adults are much more likely to have metaphorical scabs in our life.
You know what I mean, that little something in your life that causes you discomfort or pain or irritation but which you continue to pick at, time and time again. It may be regret about something in your past, or a person in your life that is adding no value to you, but which you continue to hold on to. Scabs that are consistently picked at never ever heal. And the longer you pick at it, the bigger scars they leave behind.
I’m trying to minimise Rachel’s scarring by smothering it in BioOil every day and telling her sternly not to pick at it. But kids will be kids and every day she’ll return home from school with less of it on her face, swearing blindly that it wasn’t her that pulled it off. I can’t blame her, because I was exactly the same. All I know is if that was her first real accident, it definitely won’t be her last. So I may as well stock up on princess plasters and Bactroban, because it’s sure to be one bumpy ride.