I’m afraid that this story begins in much the same way that another story I told you began. I don’t think I’m running out of ideas already, but actually, I can imagine a lot of stories might begin this way, so…
Perhaps I’d better begin again.
This story begins with some children playing. All was as it should be, that is: just a bit exuberant, just a bit frenetic, just a bit noisy.
I’m not entirely sure what they were doing, whether it was throwing a ball, or a Frisbee, or having a game of tag, or something completely different. What I do know is that as they were running through the grass, one of them tripped and fell down, and the One Rule of Grassy Fields is that where your knee lands is where the rock is.
All the adults in the room seem to know this; did you hear them all groan?
Well, the little girl that fell and skinned her knee: She was determined to be tough. She got right up and she didn’t let it stop her, even though it looked pretty bad. I mean there were lots of cuts, and it was starting to bruise, and all in all I don’t want to think about what it looked like so let’s just skip it.
I can tell you it hurt her pretty badly.
But she was tough, and so when she went home you know there were two people she didn’t tell about it, right? It was Mom and Dad, of course. She wasn’t going to make a fuss about it, or ask for help.
So for the next couple of days she put on long blue jeans each day so that nobody could see her scraped up knee. She’d have been much more comfortable in shorts or a dress, especially because the hard fabric of the blue jeans rubbed right on the gouges. It hurt her a lot, but she was tough, and she wasn’t going to show it.
It was her mother who figured out that something was going on, and she finally got it out of her. So the next few minutes were filled with cleaning off the scratches, and putting ointment on them, and covering them with a bandage so they stopped rubbing against things.
Only then did her mother ask, “Now. Why didn’t you tell me about this?”
Her daughter sat up straight and said, “I’m a tough kid. I can handle things. I want to handle things myself.”
Her mother sat for a moment. Then she replied:
“I’m glad that you want to be strong. I’m glad that you want to take responsibility for yourself. I’m glad that you want to be your own person. I’m glad you want to be tough.
“I also want you to think about the thing that was too tough for you to do: telling me and your dad. I want you to be tough enough to tell the truth. I want you to be tough enough to say what’s happening with you. I want you to be tough enough to say that you need help when you need it.”
I hope I’m tough enough to tell the truth, too.