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.
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…