This weekend my son became one of the fifty thousand kids served annually by emergency room physicians treating skateboard accidents. http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/marskate.htm
I know what you’re thinking – “Chaplain, don’t you spend enough time in emergency rooms to know that you shouldn’t let your kids have skateboards?”
Well, you see, that’s the thing. I didn’t actually give him a skateboard. That would violate the agreement I have with my wife – no skateboards for him and no skydiving for me.
This was a skateboard he borrowed – just to take it for a spill – er, I mean spin.
The whole thing happened within an hour of safely returning from vacation. Our prayers for “traveling mercies,” as we call them in our tradition, had been answered. But, I guess we should have added a skateboard waiver. I don’t know why we neglected that part. It’s not like prayer waivers are extra or anything.
But, apparently my son was so happy to be home with his friends that he went out and kissed the pavement. Then, holding a blood-soaked paper towel to his chin, he turned his direction toward home – walking right past his two sisters speeding down the street late to a movie.
Arriving on our front porch, he flung open the door and announced, “I’m giving up skateboarding.” (I admire his decisiveness about giving up things he’s not allowed to do.)
“Don’t worry,” he said. “My best friend did the same thing and he didn’t have to have stitches.”
Stitches? Stitches! I hadn’t even been thinking about stitches.
“Let me take a look,” his mother said, pulling back the paper towel.
I see hospital blood all day long, but when it belongs to my kid, I do the smart thing, I let their mother look.
“Norris! You need to look at this,” she called.
Yup, there it was – a gaping hole in his chin. “I think that’s what they call a ‘puncture wound,’” was my wise diagnosis. It was about the size of an eraser and it got darker as it went deeper.
“ER trip!” I announced.
But as I was examining the hole, his mother noticed something altogether different. It was something I hadn’t even thought of looking for. I mean this boy is 15!
It was a glistening in his eyes that was producing just enough liquid to spawn a tear. But as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared into the dirt on his face.
His mother looked at me as if to say – “OK, chaplain, tears are your department.”
So, remembering his fifteen-year-old pride, I gently perched him on a spot on the edge of my knees – all on the pretense of taking a closer look.
And for a moment, I just looked at him – It was as if I had just watched the last bit of childhood innocence and hurt escape right in front of me. For, at his age, many young men have already dug a pretty deep place where they hope to stow those tears for the duration of manhood.
But my hope for him is that it will only be a place where they hibernate – not petrify – a place where they stay only long enough to develop and transform into tears that become a reflecting pool of his authenticity.
And from his perch on my knee, he allowed me a quick hug and a reassuring hand though his hair. “Yup, it looks like stitches,” I said.
Later when we returned from the Emergency room, his mother asked, “Did it hurt?”
“Nah,” he said as he bolted out to show his friends his new battle scars.
“Well,” I said adding a postscript to his answer, “At least not for him.”