Scars and stripes 

Yesterday I took the boys to the neighborhood spray park. They ran through the spouts and sprays and while I watched my shirtless sons yell and spin in the water, I realized that I hadn’t covered up TJ’s surgery scar. I also forgot to bring a towel, so really, I’m just here to make everyone feel better about their parenting because they are smarter than I am.

When we went to Great Wolf Lodge back in December, it was the first time that TJ had gone swimming since his surgery. His stomach was distended because of a hernia and because of that, I was worried. Not because of his health at the water park, the surgeon had assured us that he was okay, but because I feared that someone would make fun of my baby. Someone would see his huge belly and red surgical scar running up his skin and say something.  I bought swim guards but the life jacket covered him up like a shield and I didn’t have to fight anyone because they said something mean to my kid and I didn’t have to explain the scar was there because he had surgery to save his life and I didn’t have to rip out my hoop earrings and grease my face with vaseline while spitting at a little kid like I was inciting a gang fight, “You wanna dance, punk!? Let’s dance!”

I saw a former coworker who was there with her kid. She asked about TJ and TJ ran up, did some silly dance, laughed and ran back into the water. So I said he was fine, that that’s the way he is.

TJ and Nathan are back to loving and fighting and wrestling and jumping and ratting on each other because someone said the “S” word (which is “shut up”) or that someone looked at someone. The nerve!

You would never know anything had happened to TJ unless you looked at his scar which has faded into a thin raised line.

There’s no story about his 19 days in the ICU or second scar where they had to insert another tube because of his infections.  It’s a battle scar I hope people will be kind enough to ask, “Oh what happened there?” That the questions will come out with curiosity and kindness rather than malice and general kid assholedom.

TJ can share the origin tale–the story that we tell him about his appendix rupturing, about mommy spending every night next to his bed, about hundreds of people online joining Team TJ and praying and hoping and sending love while he got better.  Or he can say he fought some great, powerful beast. Something huge and snarling with big paws that swiped at him. TJ was hit. He fell. There was a struggle. But TJ got up and fought back and the beast limped and whimpered away until there was no sound left but the applause of everyone around who had watched and cheered for a little boy who never gave up.

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