Scuffs and Patches

Smalldaughter’s tone was polite but imperative. It was the second sentence that moved me into a sprint that made my back quit hurting. I heard her voice echo down the hall. “Jack, I need you.

“Ruby got hit by a car.”

The girls’ trust is touching. I wasn’t as  calm as they are when I was a kid, surely not self-possessed enough to sit calmly and tell my buddy Bill, “I think you should go get your dad.”

Actually, Billy and I would usually pause and try to cook up a plausible story to explain away our injuries, but girls are smarter than boys. For either kind of kid, I don’t know why the reflex isn’t “get Mom!”

Moms do 90 percent of the Band-Aid and kisses routine, which is by far the world’s most proven psychological first aid. Women are expected to know what to do, but guys are expected to take charge of the scene. Do not blame me for this psychosocial phenomenon; I was mostly raised by Mom. She did the Band-Aids and kisses routine admirably, and was careful enough with us that we got fluoride on our teeth twice a year and allergy shots in the spring. Pretty sure she wasn’t trying to kill us…

Except that Mom trusted Bill’s dad to take over whenever there was copious blood flow. That was convenient enough. We lived close to their family, and I spent a lot of nights at their house — which more than a couple of times resulted in emergency room visits. I was a clumsy, nearsighted kid, maturing to no one’s surprise into a clumsy, nearsighted adult. No kid was ever better at hurting himself.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Then there were the visits to my own Dad’s house, where we did stuff that Mom wouldn’t allow. E-room tours included the time I got my Sting-Ray up to approximately light speed before sticking the landing on my chin (12 stitches in three layers), the time I flipped a Honda ATC 90 onto myself (scar is still there above my left knee), the time I broke my leg skiing and separated the bone by hobbling back to the Ski Patrol shack (nine weeks in a full leg cast), and the first time I broke my leg on a dirt bike.

That one was a doozy. Multiple fractures of the tibia and fibula, with compartment syndrome that had to be relieved by a fasciotomy. Do not Google that procedure near mealtime. Suffice it to say that an amputation would have sucked a lot more than the hardware that Dr. Shenkar installed that day, but it might have hurt less. A year later he took it out again, and told me I wouldn’t be able to run very well. I’ve been running badly ever since. Damn good doctor, but I digress.

All I meant to say here was that I talked to Dad today. He won’t remember the call. While we were chatting, he asked me if I’ve seen their cottage yet. That would be the duplex at the senior care center where he and I sat a couple of weeks ago, sorting through old military pictures in search of supporting evidence for his VA claim.

Ruby will be okay. She wears a good helmet to keep her good brain unbroken, and her pupils were normal. Her knee will swell and stiffen, but there weren’t any nasty rattling crunches or pulpy traumas apparent. Those scrapes are gonna sting, but Ruby’s a trooper. She didn’t bother to make up a story. Actually, she apologized to the woman whose bumper she berm-shot… several times. She barely winced when I cleaned up the oozing parts, and didn’t even cry when her ma showed up and started to leak. Her dad collected everyone up and they headed off to the emergency room to perform the requisite safety checks.

Smalldaughter will take Ruby’s shift on Safety Patrol until that knee loosens up. They’re very organized, these kids – wired on redundant circuits, forward-thinking and alert. It was Smalldaughter who first made comms from the incident site today. I was proud to see that she didn’t break down the least bit until after Ruby was bundled into their family car. Proud of all the moms and daughters, truth be known.

But it’s Dad who I’m gonna call tomorrow, just to tell him thanks. He won’t remember it, of course.

But I do.


  1. Good kid there. Damn good folks too. Give Ruby well wishes from me if you would.

  2. Keith the verbose(and more than slightly annoying) says

    When stuff like this happens is when memories return and you find out if you have / are doing good with your kids. I’d say that you two have done a dang fine job.

  3. Well done on everyone’s part; sounds pretty much like the usual dramas of parenting and growing up. Like you, I spent more time dreaming up plausible stories which usually got me into more trouble than if I tell the truth. When I see you this summer I will tell you the infamous 12th birthday new bicycle crash/crush on Donna story.
    I have never lived it down but managed to grow into it. That’s not quite a metaphor is it.

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