WRITING SHORT: 25/50

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[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

I was apparently a child not deft on her feet. Many photographs of me before the age of five show a square white bandage on my left knee, held in place on two sides by white surgical tape. One of those bandage-producing falls is among my earliest memories. I am about three. My mother and I are returning from the park with another mother and her child. The two women stop for a moment to end their chat across from the house where we live.

Eager to show what a big girl I am, I pull free from my mother’s hand and step off the curb to run home alone. In the middle of the street, I fall. My left knee stings. I hear screaming from the sidewalk. Turning my head sideways, I see the round headlights and vertical grill of a large grey car coming right at me. There isn’t time to get up. And the scraped knee hurts too much to move. But I’m not scared.

The car squeals to a stop a little more than a foot away. If I reached out, I could touch its metal bumper. My mother rushes into the street to scoop me up. I can’t understand why she’s so upset. The car wouldn’t have hurt me. Of course it was going to stop. What I’m upset about is the prospect of her disinfecting the raw knee with cotton dipped in alcohol once we get home, before bandaging it. Alcohol I do understand. It hurts.

I shouldn’t have wiggled out of her grasp. Or she should have held on tighter. But I’m glad the worst thing I could think of at three when lying in the path of a moving car was how alcohol felt on a scraped knee. All young children should be made to feel safe, despite the dangers everywhere.

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10 thoughts on “WRITING SHORT: 25/50

  1. Wow.
    I felt my heart jump in my throat as I read this.
    Thank goodness it didn’t get any more serious than a scraped knee! Although scraped knees are a big thing to young children & I have painful memories of quite a few myself…but you know what I’m trying to say 😉

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    • If it had got much more serious, Takami, I wouldn’t be here now to tell you about it. But of course the point of the piece is that at three, I wouldn’t have known about “much more serious,” and I believe that’s how it should always be with little children. Yes, we should explain to them that cars and people have to take turns, so they don’t bump into each other. When the light is green, it’s our turn; when the light is red, we must give the cars their turn. But it’s not okay to frighten young children with warnings that cars will kill them if they don’t watch out. That’s why, when I remember this story, I’m glad I was only worried about the alcohol.

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    • I must not have written it quite right, Christine, if you take away from this little piece that it was a terrible memory. It may have remained a terrible memory for my mother; I remember it not as terrible but unusual. There was not only the novelty of seeing a large car close up from the ground but also of everyone becoming so excited — my mother, her woman friend, and even the driver, who got out of the car to make sure I was all right. I had no idea at all that it was a near tragedy, and I believe all little children should be spared thoughts of such tragedies until they’re old enough to deal with them. But thanks for the OMG anyway! 🙂

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      • Nina, I probably read it & identified with your mother. Plus at that age or maybe 4 I do remember fear when hurt badly. The cuts & scrapes were secondary. It’s so good that your memory stays with the sting of alcohol. I agree little kids need to be spared thoughts of such tragedies, but unfortunately not all kids are. Christine

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  2. Interesting story. When I was young I too was more concerned about things like “will the doctor give me a shot?” or “do I have to take yucky medicine” than whether I would live. Living was a given at that age.

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    • That’s exactly right, Kate: living is a given at that age, or should be. When I read about the horror spots of the world, where hunger and violence flourish, I feel especially for the little children, who learn about unimaginably awful things when they are far too young.

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  3. It’s so interesting what we remember from those early years. I understand how you had no fear somehow. One of my earliest memories was letting go of my grandmother’s hand in a very large public market. I was having fun checking out all the merchandise, did not understand why they were so horrified to lose sight of me. Alone, but fearless.

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