A Scar Is Born


The one and only time that we’ve had to take our son to get stitched up was a few weeks after we first moved to Malaysia.  This was about 5 years ago. My experience with Asian playgrounds ever since has been that it isn’t uncommon for sharp things to poke out of a play structure.  Different regulations I suppose. In the U.S. things are designed so super safe that kids just bounce off the rubber matting that’s under the playground and someone would get sued if their kid got hurt on one. (I actually saw my friend’s kid fall from up high once, bounce, then get up and keep playing. I still can’t believe it.)


We were on a playground in Johor Bahru when Lorenzo came running up and showed me his bleeding head.  We didn’t even know how our medical  insurance worked, or where the hospital was, and ended up at a clinic that was next to our school.  This was my first scary overseas experience as a parent. I watched as they sewed his head up on a piece of newspaper.  NEWSPAPER! There was a moment there that I doubted how rational this whole move was in the first place.  I longed for Kaiser Permanente and a clean, Western medical experience.

Sorry if this is gross, but it’s part of the story.


A sad boy

Fast forward a few years and now we laugh about it…”Remember the time when we  moved to Malaysia and Lorenzo got his head sewn up on a piece of newspaper?” His scar tells a story about a really important time in our lives. Moving abroad takes courage and time to get used to a new reality.  It’s also important for me to realize that millions of people around the world don’t even have the luxury of medical care that we’re accustomed to.  The clinic was humble, the doctor was professional, the newspaper was clean.  It was just different, and therefore kind of scary, at the time.  We’ve grown a lot by seeing how the rest of the world lives.  Things like this don’t bother me anymore.


Last week, during our Morning Meeting, I asked my fourth grade students, “Who has a scar and remembers how they got it”?  Every single child raised their hand and wanted to share.  Every story they told had a setting, characters, emotion, precise details, and some kind of resolution.  It was fun to share stories this way and the teacher in me got thinking about next year and how I might tie this in when I teach narrative writing.  I was reminded of a time 20 years ago when my rabbit, Dennis Hopper, jumped off of my arm and left a deep gouge in my wrist.  It brought me right back to living in Humboldt County, California and all the memories that came with that period of my life.  Sometimes, just paying attention to the things that are always in front of us lead to experiences like these.  Now I’ve got scars on the brain (figuratively, of course) and have been asking others about their scar stories. Do you have one?

 Now, if only wrinkles could be this much fun…

My students’ collection of scars

3 thoughts on “A Scar Is Born

  1. This is beautiful. It made me think of all my surgery scars and how far I have come since getting them. I was sad and afraid at the time. Now, I am grateful. Without my scars I wouldn’t know what it means to be vulnerable. Without my scars I wouldn’t understand other people’s sadness and fear. Without my scars I wouldn’t have felt my wonderful body’s need to heal. Yay! I survived! I have a ‘scar story’ to tell.


  2. Absolutely love this post! I can only imagine what a wonderful discussion it was with all the kids that’s so cute the picture of all their legs! And yes I’m sure it was kind of scary your first time it reminds me of someone eating their first grateful Dead parking lot burrito. Love you guys so proud of you and so happy I found your blog!


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