#SATurday: The Scar of Childhood

17 Jan

The Scar of Childhood

Mine is on the left side of my right leg, directly below the knee. I cannot describe the shape because it depends on the temperature of the day and what I was wearing. Sometimes, that piece of scarred flesh is blue, but most days it radiates red. The biggest scar from my childhood will probably never go away – as most scars do – but I mean to say, “go away” in another way, in a way others bring it up over and over again. In other words, my scar bothers people.

It is nothing new to me. The bits of whispers or gestures caught in my peripheral senses reflect the summer days I dare to wear shorts. Sometimes, someone even asks if I’m okay or if I need a Band-Aid. I don’t judge them. After all, I am aware of how red the burn scar gets after a day in the sun. Up close, it can look like it just happened. From a distance, it sometimes appears to be bleeding.

Gross? Definitely. But I do wish I could wear shorts without questioning the number of people I will surely gross out during my daily commute. Being asked if I have a disease from a complete stranger isn’t exactly a confidence boost, so I generally wear pants all year around – just to avoid all the trouble.

I’ve tried to overcome this insecurity of mine. Trust me. I have gone through the stare-all-you-want phase. But it ended somewhere along the way – on a day I was too tired to explain, “No, it isn’t contagious” and follow up with the explanation of where it came from.

In case you were wondering what a Vino moped looks like

In case you were wondering what a Vino moped looks like

It happened in 2006. I had just turned 14, and I was celebrating with my favorite gift from 2003. My father had gave me a Vino moped painted a merlot red (my favorite color). Why he thought this was safe for a teenager is still beyond me, but it wasn’t illegal on private property nor is it rare for preteens and teenagers to have mopeds and dirt bikes in the Midwest. Plus, I did drive it for two years without incident. The third year, 2006, brought the incident.

We had a forest of acres behind our house. If you’ve read Take Me Tomorrow, these are the same trees Sophia falls in love with – the trees I crashed my moped into.

It’s impossible to explain the logic going through my head that day, but the forest had mowed trails I drove on all the time. Perhaps it was familiarity that allowed me to ignore the dangers of that specific day. The difference this particular moment was the small amount of moisture on the ground. The end result was enough mud to sling my back tire out from under me.

The engine landed on my leg.

I guess that is how scars are born – singular moments, sometimes in moments much like other moments, with only one dramatic change, but the scarring moment stays with you forever while all the others melt together or melt away.

For me, childhood is much like that scar – a collection of good memories I cannot separate from one or the other and a few, very defined moments I cannot sever from my every day life – but I would not wish it away.

The absence of my scar might make my daily life easier – simpler – but I would lose a story to tell. I would lose MY story. I would lose me.

~SAT

P.S. I have worked with some wonderful authors this week through my Services, and I wanted to give them all a big shout-out! Check out their work by clicking the links below.

threeuahotrs

A Time to Reap by Jonas Lee (YA, fantasy, time-traveling)

Red Queen: The Substrate Wars by Jeb Kinnison (YA, thriller, modern-day dystopia)

Along the Way to Happily-Ever-After by T.N. Carpenter (self-help, memoir about marriage)

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22 Responses to “#SATurday: The Scar of Childhood”

  1. heatherbcosta January 17, 2015 at 2:53 am #

    I have a scar on my left leg that covers almost all of my kneecap. It happened when I was twelve and fell off of my bicycle and down a gravel track. Although it doesn’t bother me, some people do look at it when I wear shorts or cut-offs and like yours, mine tends to turn blue – especially in the winter months.

    I tend to view scars as a reminder of the trials we’ve faced and yet survived.

    Great post, Shannon!

    • Shannon A Thompson January 17, 2015 at 2:56 am #

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I’ve always found scars rather fascinating, especially how we view them in culture. For one, I think we *love* seeing them in fiction because it brings a depth to a character or a story, but that love is displayed in fiction very differently than how it actually happens in real life (in my experience anyway). That would be an interesting topic to explore! I agree with you completely, too. They are physical traits of a trial.
      ~SAT

  2. Steven S January 17, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    I like to think of myself as my mother’s scar; an unwanted thing that she cannot outrun. But that is a story for another time. Of my many scars, the earliest and most prominent lives above my right eye and has since been covered by an eyebrow in desperate need of a trim. I may have been about 2 or 3 and can still playback part of the incident from my own memory, from the falling to the burning bright white followed by the waterfall of red. Still unsure of what sent me crashing into my aunt’s fireplace post, however. Had I been an inch taller, it would have impaled my eye. Thank God for small miracles, right? (Pun intended)

    • Shannon A Thompson January 17, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

      Wow! Now, that’s another aspect to chat about – scars we have but cannot remember all the details of getting. Thank you for sharing your story.
      ~SAT

  3. M.A. January 17, 2015 at 6:49 am #

    You are more patient than I would be. After a certain number of questions, I’d probably start responding with things like, “Thanks, but I’m okay. The doctors said I’m probably not contagious” or “It’s fine, and I don’t care what anyone says, I’m not going back into quarantine.”

    All of my scars are emotional and therefore invisible. No one knows looking me that I had life-threatening asthma as a child or about the family stuff my siblings and I went through growing up. Of course, my scars feel very real and present to me, but it’s odd for me to think sometimes that no one can see that, that there’s no physical evidence that it ever happened. I don’t know if one kind of scar (visible or invisible) is better than the other, but it is interesting to think about how others react to the two differently.

    Also, when i read your writing, it’s easy for me to forget how young you are (about the age of my eldest son). You write so well and have such good and thoughtful insights and perspective.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 17, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

      HAHAHA Oh, my goodness. Your first paragraph is priceless. I can confess that I have never even thought of responding that way, but I like it! On a side note, I was invited to read one of my poems – Injuries – at the University of Kansas about inner and outer scars. Thought you might like to read it (http://hellopoetry.com/poem/920320/injuries/). I completely understand the disconnect of having inner scars no one can see! I think everyone has that in one way or another, and it’s very unsettling when you think about it. I think one of the strangest moments in life is when you find out someone has died and you have to go on doing something normal – like buying gas at a gas station – and you pass everyone, knowing no one can tell what just happened to you, even though it’s so shattering. Thank you for sharing your story by commenting! And I appreciate your kind compliment.
      ~SAT

  4. Charles Yallowitz January 17, 2015 at 7:00 am #

    I only have a few small cooking scars on the backs of my wrist. My son has a few though and they me some looks like I did something. One is on the bridge of his nose from falling in the bathroom. The others are on both knees from falling in a public sprinkler play area that was built on concrete. He ran, he laughed, he tripped, he skidded, and howled until my wife brought him home. Honestly, I wasn’t there for either incident. Still the looks we get are strange and I’m sure there will be questions when he goes back to shorts. Odd how strangers create their own stories about other people’s scars.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

      I agree! It is strange how strangers start speculating about one another’s scars. Then again, as a writer, I think I have used scars as a defining feature in more than one of my books – but more so in November Snow than anything else. Maybe it’s a morbid curiosity everyone has? I can admit I’ve been curious about other scars I’ve seen, but I can’t recall ever asking a complete stranger about it or staring (or gaping) at one.
      ~SAT

      • Charles Yallowitz January 17, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

        I think I have a post on scars in my books coming up in the first week of February. I noticed how I’ve been using them as defining features and ‘reminders’ of big battles. I hit a point where I’m wondering if I should put a scar on a character who it doesn’t seem to fit. Probably because it’s one of the nastiest ones in the series that would work ‘better’ on one of the male heroes.

        I think we’ve all been raised to think that there’s a story behind every scar. In movies and TV, a character with a scar always seems to have a fascinating story. So we think that’s how it works in real life too and don’t even realize it. I’ve never asked either unless the person offers to talk or brings attention to it. That or I’m trapped in a waiting room with someone that’s as bored as I am.

  5. Susannah Ailene Martin January 17, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Well at least it isn’t on your face. I split my eyebrow open with a PVC pipe a few years ago and my eyebrow still looks a bit funny. I got to scare kids at my summer camp after it though, so that was a plus. But don’t worry about scars. The right people won’t care.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

      Agreed! I don’t think any of my friends mind or anything like that. I only find it curious how strangers react to such things. It makes you wonder why society reacts in one way toward something – like a scar.
      Thank you for sharing your story, too!
      ~SAT

  6. debyfredericks January 17, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Hmmm, could you put a bandage over it and wear shorts anyway? Sometimes people do that for work, when they have tattoos and the management doesn’t want them to be visible.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

      I actually have done that before! But – to be honest – since it’s a rather large burn scar, so most bandages don’t fit, and the scar gets irritated if the bandage crosses it. So, I abandoned that practice a long time ago, and I still wear shorts sometimes despite everything. It’s just in general that I avoid shorts.
      ~SAT

  7. JK January 17, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    I had a similar scar from my own childhood from the tail pipe of a Harley Davidson. One day my dad took me for a ride on the back to drop me off for a play rehearsal. It was about 100 degrees out, sweat is pouring down my forehead, and I didn’t want to change into jeans. He always wore jeans on the bike, no matter what the weather, but on a day like that, anything other than shorts was unfathomable.

    I should have followed his lead. Halfway to the school, we came to a stop at a light and I let my legs drop down from the pegs. One of them came to rest against the exhaust pipe. It took two to three seconds for the pain to even register. By the time it hit and I yanked away, the light changed and we were off, so I don’t think my dad heard my yelp of pain over the roar of the engine. When we stopped and I got off the bike, a circular patch the size of my clenched fist was seared into my flesh. I remember being surprised at how little blood there was. Second degree burns are like that.

    Over time it healed and I was left with a small expanse of skin that was pale and slick and didn’t match the rest of my leg. It got used to it and it was a part of me, I carried it around for years until one day I looked down and realized it was starting to fade. Time heals all wounds. Today, when I read your story I realized that I couldn’t remember which leg it was.

    I kind of miss my scar.

    I hope you can wear yours with pride, you earned it.

    • Shannon A Thompson January 18, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

      Wow! What a story. Thanks for sharing. I’m not sure mine will ever heal, but I suppose I will find out one of these days. I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to not have it. I have looked into getting it re-burned (which is a skin treatment for bad burn scars, believe it or not) so that the damage tissue can heal correctly this time, but I’ve kept it around instead. One day, maybe I’ll be proud of it and wear shorts instead. ;]
      ~SAT

  8. Fredrik Kayser January 17, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Scars can be fascinating, mine are all relatively small but like you said, each one has a story I’m unlikely to forget. Some scars are not visible, chronic pain is one such scar and it can be debilitating to live with. I suppose how we face our scars, visible, faded, or other, is one type of measure for true strength. It is, as you said, parts of us and even though it might seem odd the fact that I wake up most mornings with backpain of varying intensity it makes me feel alive. It reminds me not only that I live, but that I survived. Some of my visible scars are like that too, haha. When I’m reminded of how i got them the thought, “suck it, Death!” always pops into my head. I’ve had a few close calls but i dont think I’d go back and change any of it. : )

    • Shannon A Thompson January 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      Very true! Invisible scars bring up such interesting topics about life. Thank you for sharing your story! I got in a car wreck when I was 16 that did permanent damage to my back, so I understand the back pain that no one can see. Especially when it rains. But it’s me. :] I sort of prefer my invisible ones to my physical ones – I suppose – because I can decide when someone sees it rather than having a complete stranger see it and possibly pass judgement based on it. I’ve never minded the staring. It was the questioning that began to bother me.
      Thank you for reading and commenting!
      ~SAT

  9. K.D. Keenan January 17, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    Wear your scar proudly, Shannon, and don’t let the comments bother you. It proves you have lived and not just existed! Anyone who would comment on your scar is beneath your notice anyway.

  10. alexlaybourne January 28, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    I also have a scare on my left leg, below my knee. I was caught by out Dalmatian one afternoon when I was around twelve-ish.

    We were playing football (soccer) and I was throwing the ball for him. That last time I threw the ball intending to kick it for him, but he leaped forward, and his claw cut my shin open.

    The scar is pretty wide. The hospital also made the mistake of forgetting to numb my leg, so I had 3 / 4 stiches without pain killers. I will never forget it.

    I have several others from childhood, including one large scar across the right side of my chest but that came from a surgery when I was a few months old.

    As you say, we all have childhood scars, and the stories behind them and their presence on our bodies are part of what make us who we are.

  11. G Martin Cook January 28, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    I commented before on your post about your early-onset carpel tunnel syndrome. I’m the guy with the birth defect on his hands. I had corrective surgery when i was a baby (in fact, i have baby pictures with bandages on my hands from my first surgery) but, because hands grow over time and skin grafts do not, i had to go back annually for skin graft upgrades. That ended when i was 18. Now, 3 of the 4 fingers on both of my hands resemble melted candles. I have full dexterity but they are freakishly ugly.

    I remember being very self-conscious about them all through high-school. I must’ve recounted the story of my defect and the surgery hundreds of times to strangers. It got a little redundant, to say the least. Nowadays, however, most people don’t even notice my hands unless they watch me type, draw or pay close attention when I’m writing my name on something.

    Those are not my only scars, of course, but they are the most visible. The surgeons where compassionate enough to take the skin grafts from parts of my body that are easily concealed. I have two scars on my upper thighs, easily hidden by shorts, that are about the size and shape of slices of sandwich bread, and two strips across my belly beneath my navel. They are largely faded now, but growing up i was a bit paranoid about them when i started dating. Thankfully, they never became an issue.

    There’s a line of dialogue i read once between two guys that survived a battle, a veteran and a rookie. The rookie was pretty banged up and the parting comment the veteran left him with was, “Remember, chicks dig scars.” For some strange reason, that stuck in my mind and, i discovered, is largely true…but its not limited to women. I learned to use the story of how i got my scars as an ice-breaker in conversations. It was far more interesting than what i did for a living, what i was studying, or what my opinions were on religion and politics. So now I look forward to someone noticing my hands and asking how i was burned. It provides me with the opportunity to smile, correct their false deduction and share a little bit about myself with them, and maybe, learn a little something about them at the same time 🙂

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  1. January’s Ketchup | Shannon A Thompson - January 31, 2015

    […] The Scar of Childhood: Scars in fiction versus real life scars. […]

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