My two-year-old, Lucy, received her first full-on-running, tripping-and-skidding-on-cement knee scrape a few months back. Oh, the horrors. It was the most painful injury she’d yet experienced: little knee torn open and bleeding. As she sobbed and screamed in pain for what felt like interminable minutes, her body shook with the shock. Along with her discomfort, I could feel a sense of betrayal: the realization that being in her body could cause such pain. Yes, honey, it sure can.
For the next couple of days, every time we bared her knee to go potty or get in the bath, she started crying and trembling again, staring at her knee and reliving anew the memory and pain. “Don’t take my bandaid off, Mom.”
And then, during one bath time, we took the bandaid off. She whimpered for a bit until she realized that the scrape no longer hurt as badly as it had when we put the bandaid on.
For a few days after that, she still addressed her knee when we bared it, but from a different angle. “My owie’s feeling pretty good, Mom.” “Oh, good.”
Every time I went to help her with her pants for bath or potty, she’d report the same line with growing confidence, even before she could see her knee. “My owie’s feeling good, Mom.” This went on long after I’d imagined such a young person would pay attention to a scab. But as I thought about it, it made sense. This was the first substantial rip in her fresh baby skin. Why wouldn’t she monitor it closely to see what happened?
Bath time, maybe a week later, started the same way: “My owie’s feeling good, Mom.” She waved her hands back and forth in the warm water, gently splashing. Then came her most surprising update of all, spoken as a matter-of-fact, without hesitation: “I wuv my owie.”
I love my owie.
Is that how healing works in its pure form? Shock and betrayal of an unexpected wound, plenty of permission to wail and mourn, plenty of days to whimper at the memory, a gradual recognition that, well, it actually feels pretty good now. And then: I love my owie.
As she witnessed her body’s miraculous capacity for restoration, she slowly came to accept this owie as part of her life, just as much as her favorite stuffed animals and Mommy and Daddy.
Does honest feeling, careful attention, and openness to change pave the way for wonder and love, wonder and love of even those most unwanted life surprises? What does Lucy’s journey speak to you?