Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
There's one in every family.
We go for a hike in the forest and the majority of us return with wild flowers and interesting stones. There will be the one, however, who comes back with something much more personal: poison ivy.
He's the child with skinned knees from bike spills, bruised elbows courtesy of climbing trees, a split lip after a trip down the slide and a wart from only who knows where.
He's made more visits to the emergency room than the rest of us put together. A romp in the woods resulted in stitches. He's dislocated his elbow - twice. His brothers need barely brush past him and his nose bleeds profusely. When he goes barefoot, he is almost certain to step on glass. He goes to bed and wakes up with a Charley horse. The mosquitoes and wood ticks prefer him over any other member of the family.
At any given moment, he can be counted on to have at least one sliver, hang nail and probably a couple of blisters. Some or all will be bleeding. If I didn't know better, I'd swear he was born to keep the Band-Aid company in business.
This week, we're dealing with a three-fer; the trifecta of injuries arrived courtesy of the trunk of a large oak tree: 1. There is a silver dollar-sized scrape on his left cheek. 2. His eyelid is purple. 3. Somehow in the process he also hurt his knee. Trees can be formidable opponents.
Immediately following the incident he was despondent. Pain is no fun. None of the usual comfort measures proved comforting. The Band-Aid wouldn't fit on his knee. The ice pack was too cold. Even a Popsicle didn't possess its usual magic.
I re-examined his wounds and, without giving it much thought, mentioned that he'd probably have a black eye by the next morning. He perked up at the mention of a shiner.
"Really?" he asked, his uninjured eye bright with anticipation.
When you are 7-years-old, there is something admirable about a black eye. It is like the Mount Everest of injury. A blister might be a cause for sympathy; a hangnail may elicit a little TLC; but a black eye is just plain cool. When it comes to injury, a black eye says, "Respect me," "I'm tough," and "you should see the dent I put in the tree."
My son spent the rest of the evening gazing into the bathroom mirror, waiting (hoping?) for the shiner to appear.
Unfortunately the whole black eye thing didn't pan out. Florence Nightingale I am not. While his scab was sizeable and noteworthy, his eyelid a regal shade of purple and his knee scraped and bloody, his injuries were not (sigh) accompanied by broken and blackened blood vessels under the eye.
It was a bit of a blow, but still, he collided with a tree and lived to tell about it. That was something worth remembering.
So, the next day, to make up for my lack of ESP regarding black eyes, I captured the event on video as he reenacted the tree scraping incident - in slow motion - showing how he had his eyes closed (while running) and the tree just came up out of nowhere (in the same place it's been rooted his entire life), stopping him not-quite-dead-but-nearly-so in his tracks.
He's only 7. He's got lots of years to crash bikes, smash trees as well as slash, bash and mash the rest of his body all in the name of play. For someone with his aptitude, there's got to be a black eye somewhere in his future. I guess we can only hope.
Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award-winning freelance writer. She appreciates your comments and can be reached at
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