Sometimes, when a child gets a boo boo, the ouchie moment turns into sweetness as an extra opportunity to nurture and soothe.
This morning, before school, my daughter tripped on the concrete walk that runs through the backyard. She came down so hard that her feet flew up behind her. I anticipate her having a back ache from this, but at least she did not hit her head. I escorted her gently back into the house to find that both hands (one in particular) and both knees were sufficiently torn and bleeding. Eight bandaids later, she went cheerfully to school talking about the story I had told her while cleaning her wounds. At age 10, a good story will still distract her enough from pain to stop crying.
You see, the whole thing is really the fault of the chipmunks. There is a pair of them that sometimes play chase in the morning, and one of them was not looking at all where he was running. He bolted right into my daughter’s path. In one horrible split second, she made a life-altering choice—either continue to step and thus risk pinning the chipmunk by his tail to the sidewalk (and a crushed tail would be devastating to these little critters) or stop short and risk her own fall.
Alas, the girl fell, but the chipmunk was able to dart to safety and watch with great shock and sorrow as his beloved caretaker (she does mind the critters of the garden, at least in spirit) took a nose dive onto the unforgiving concrete path. All the garden held its breath as my daughter’s hands broke her fall. When she rose from all fours, the rabbits and chipmunks poked their noses in her direction and whispered well-wishes into her ears. Even the birds sung songs of encouragement, but I think our darling was too surprised and hurt to notice.
When I was little, my father told me stories, too. And now that I have children, my mother tells my daughter stories. I love that the tradition is being passed to my children. I hope with it comes the remembrance of the sweeter things: tenderness exchanged over scraped knees and a time when childhood still could be magical.