Monday, May 2, 2011

Freckles

I have a scar on the back of my right hand that came from being eight years old, and stupid. I was stung by a bee and it itched, of course, and I scratched, of course. It scabbed and I scratched and it scabbed again and it scratched and there's a scar on the back of my hand that looks like a mole.

Or maybe it is a mole, who can tell? because I was eight, and stupid. But I remember the bee sting, and now there's a mark. L likes to kiss it.

It's a gift she offers: Mama, show me your hands. Where is it? It's not there. Show me the other hand. Mama, I give you a kiss where the bee stingded you. Mmmmwah!

The memory has long been subsumed by the story of the memory, but that's how it goes, with our bodies.

The other girl pulls my other hand and looks at another dot. Is that a bee sting, too?

"No, love, that's just a freckle." Too many years of too little sunscreen, I could tell her, but she's growing up in the Age of Sunscreen; and won't likely know the burn-and-peel cycles of my childhood. So I just take her hand in mine and squeeze it.

What's a freckle?

"Just a mark that grows on your skin. You'll get a few as you get better. Actually, you have two already, up there on your shoulder."

What!!?? No, I DON'T!

"It's no big deal, love. Everybody gets them. It's just part of your body growing older. Pull your dress back. Look right here." She shrugged aggressively out of my arms, instead, and flounced away.

We're all scarred a hundred ways, I want to tell her. Some really hurt, like the memory of that bee sting. Some don't hurt at all, like this freckle. Some once hurt a lot, but now are sweet reminders, I think, looking at the IV scar on my wrist from her not-as-planned birth. And the worst ones, I hope she won't learn for many years, are the ones you can't even see. Those scars hurt the most. Is it possible, even, to grow without any of those?

"Come here," I gently say to her later. "I just want you to see them. Just look."

No! she says urgently, and twists away again. I don't believe in freckles.

I drop the conversation. To take a stance not to believe in freckles is to take a stance not to believe in growing up. Our bodies age and the evidence lies under her pretty purple dress. But, I think, these are the last few months of choosing her oblivion. Kindergarten comes in four months, and she'll face her growing up directly. I'll let her have her illusions a little longer.

She so badly wants to hold on to them. Pin It