[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.