“And this is Debby, our accident prone child.” In my younger years that was my standard introduction. I was the walking disaster in our family. I donated so much blood to cement— forensics could still retrieve my DNA. Personally, I didn’t like being labelled the klutz in our family. What I truly wanted, was to be labeled a dancer, for all the gracefulness that lurked under my skin. I wanted to impress, with my phenomenal dancing ability. Instead, all I ever did was bleed.
As a six-year old, I walk across the street on my way home from school. My head is filled with clouds of fairy dust and unicorns. Thwack! I am smacked with a mini-missile right between the eyes. Was it a bolt of lightening? No. I glance around in a state of confusion. I wonder where my magical world had gone. I see two groups of older kids throwing rocks at each other. Apparently, I had levitated into a rock fight. A sharp pain radiates across my head, blood gushes down my face. I run home leaving a path of bright red drops behind me.
I burst into my house and yell, “Mom, Mom I think I’m dying!”
She comes running, fluttering all over me, “What happened?”
“I walked into a rock fight.” I sniffle, holding back the tears.
She pulls her face into a frown, “What were you thinking walking into a rock fight,”
Mom wouldn’t want to hear the answer. It was the clouds of fairies, I thought.
Mom drove us to the hospital, “You’re probably going to need stitches.” She grumped.
Now the pain dwindled, all I felt was worry wiggling in my stomach. Gross— sewing my skin together? That’ll hurt more than the rock bullet.
Mom looks over and pats my arm, “It’s okay. They’ll give you freezing. You won’t feel a thing.”
I sigh with relief.
However, no one warns me the injection of freezing will hurt. It creates a piercing burning sensation, far worse than my injury. I fight. I try to box the doctor in the nose. I squirm to escape his grasp.
“Hildegard!” hollers the doctor, “I need help in here.”
The nurse arrives to pin me down. I can’t breath. Dr. Frankinstein stitches me together.
When we get home, Mom stalks into the kitchen. Dad is sitting at the table.
Mom throws her purse on an empty chair and glares at Dad, “The next time, you can take her to the hospital.” snaps Mom.
I sigh, I guess there has to be a next time.
The next time was a few months later. We were playing train robbers on the neighbour’s outside stairs. A black iron railing lined the steps. A shining silver garbage can sat at the bottom of the railing. I rush down the steps to escape the sheriff. My heart pounds with joy. I giggle uncontrollably. I elude my pursuers. I hang off the railing, swinging around the bottom, light footed and free. My feet slip out from under me. I lose my smile, as I fall with increasing speed towards the garbage can. Wham! I slam my face on the edge of the metal. It splits the skin and tissue open between my nose and lips. I sit on the ground stunned. I press my hand firmly against my cut, blood leaks through my fingers soaking the sidewalk, turning it crimson.
My sister runs to the house, “Mom! Mom! Debby is bleeding again.”
I shrink inside, visualizing Moms angry eyes, and tight lips.
At the hospital, the doctor treats me like I had inconvenienced him, like it wasn’t his job to fix up an accident-prone kids. I decide to be brave for Mom. But then the doctor covers my eyes, and I can’t see what he’s doing. I forgot how much freezing hurt. I forgot to be brave. But I remembered Hildegard. She hadn’t lost any weight.
Mom was angry with me again. I felt like the slug mom salted in the garden, all shrivelled and small. This time no one said anything about a next time. Actually no one said anything. The silent treatment was in full effect.
A month later, (It was a busy time for me— campaigning for accident-prone kid of the year.) I’m skipping in our basement. I’m working on picking up my dancing feet. I trip and fall face first. There was blood. Oh no, not again?
I sneak upstairs to the bathroom, and lock myself inside. I lean forward peering into the mirror. A bit of blood drips down my chin. I pull down my bottom lip, to see a small gash where my tooth cut in. Not too bad, the bleeding had almost stopped.
I close my lips together. There is no evidence that I almost had to go for stitches. No next time for Mom. Phew, I smile at myself in the mirror.
My smile disappears immediately. What the hell happened to my tooth? I lean in to get a better look. One third of my tooth is diagonally chipped off. My guts churn. Mom and Dad are going to be so mad. I sneak downstairs, and search for my tooth chip using a grid pattern. Success! Now I could fix it.
After trying for hours to attach my tooth, with white glue, I accept defeat. I don’t tell my parents though. I stop smiling. I look down to eat, or cover my mouth when I talk.
A week later Mom asks, “Debby, let me look in your mouth.”
I take my hand off my mouth, and press my lips tightly together.
“Let’s see inside your mouth.” Orders Dad in his no nonsense tone.
I shake my head.
They activate the angry faces. I give in. I show them my pointy tooth. They aren’t happy, I knew they wouldn’t be. I don’t know why they made me show them. I wasn’t complaining.
There were more incidents later in life, a few more stitches, concussions, sprains, pulled ligaments, and a broken thumb. My parents slapped the label accident-prone across my forehead at a young age, without intending harm. I carried the label for a long time, until one day, I realized it wasn’t true.
No one has labels. Not unless we choose to believe them. We are all just swaying to the winds of life, sometimes we rise, and sometimes we fall.