The band scar

When I was a younger woman, I used to relish the time in a relationship when I collected my paramour’s scar stories. I would lightly trace the scars on hands, feet, arms, legs and coyly inquire where they had come from, how they were acquired.

Those physical scars always seemed to lead to a discussion ripe with the knowledge I was really after – what their emotional scars were and where they hid. As a naïve, infatuated young adult, these were scars I mistakenly thought I could help heal.

Of course, I know all of Mr. Bailey’s scars now. Being a bit clumsy, he’s got a number of them. When we were first married, they all represented adventures or amusing stories he had before me. Now, a good number of the scars represent shared memories – a gash on his wrist a week before our second Christmas together, slightly raised bumps across his broad knuckles from accidentally punching a hole in our ceiling, celebrating our team winning a trip to the Super Bowl.

After so much in-utero anxiety about their health, the first time they laid my pink and perfect babies in my arms, I cried over their unblemished skin, tears I hoped would bless and protect them from any harm.

I remember the moment Prima received the cut that is now a straight, slim two-inch scar on the front of her left hand. I think of that moment every time I catch sight of the scar.

But what really keeps me up at night is the mental gymnastics I do pondering where and how Prima’s and Secondo’s emotional scars will bloom. As any good parent does, I contemplate my role in creating them, which, let’s be honest, always pertains.

Prima and Secondo have already experienced the death of two grandparents, before the

Photo by Kelly Hampton, from the blog, Enjoying the Small Things,

age of 10. A grandfather before Secondo was born, so the scars carried there belong to Mr. Bailey and I; a grandmother just a year ago. For a year, they only rarely spoke of her keen love for her granddaughters, her sparkling smile, the way she made them feel better when they were sick and handwrote thank you notes praising them for small kindnesses they had offered her. But since that year has slipped by in a confusing fog, they’ve begun to ask me to tell them stories, and to explain again why they lost her.

They’ve also lost a teacher, two great-grandparents, and two great uncles, in some cases, quite suddenly.

So I am aware of those scars and try my mother-bear best to prevent smaller losses – friends or routines or cherished playthings – from causing further damage.

Recently, Prima came home from school in an absolute fervor. The band teacher had visited the classroom and she was now on fire to join the band and play the trumpet. Having paid for guitar lessons over the summer that seemed to go well but resulted in a distain for practicing and an interest in a thousand other activities, we were less than enthusiastic. Then we took a look at the costs, and the other activities she was already committed to, we decided to postpone the band for another day.

Prima was completely devastated. There were tears, gnashing of teeth, casting of stones, spasmodic jumping up and down and sad faces for days. Her big brown eyes became orbs of betrayal when she expertly cast them upon us, welling.

I calculated how deep this cut would be. I worried it would result in a lifelong scar. I hoped the band scar might be treated with the happy moments we were also providing: birthday parties! Soccer games! Specialized tutoring! A study hall with her teacher while the other kids were at band! Not so much.

But then, the tide of tears seemed to stem and Prima once again found her happy place. She’s a pleasant child by nature, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Several days later, I was tucking her and Secondo into their bunk beds. We said our nightly prayer and then I asked each child to tell me who they wanted to pray for. Prima mentioned family and friends, then paused.

“I also want to pray for all of the children who want to do band but their parents won’t let them,” she intoned, reverently.

The dim night light shielded my shocked face as I managed to choke out, “OK. Secondo! Who do you want to pray for?”

So, chalk up another scar. It’s clearly not the first, and certainly not the last.

But maybe, (I can dream) it might be the worst for a little awhile.

You won’t find this scene in the Bailey household these days, much to Prima’s chagrin.


71 thoughts on “The band scar

  1. I can so identify with this. I’m beginning to suspect, however, that the scars we give them are born of events that we don’t discuss or even really notice. The times when we care and think about their feelings, perhaps, go down in emotional history as conflict. The times when we don’t see the wounds, maybe, are when the scars form?

    I still remember vividly refusing to participate in a pagent when I was four. I was denied my prize (a Kiss doll – Demon) and I cried and felt so misunderstood. I hope that Prima digests this disapointment since it was dolled out with lots of love, too.

    • Yes, you are probably right. I have another post about worrying about all the wrong things, which speaks to this notion. You can find it here if you are interested.

      I love your memory — the agony of Demon Kiss doll lost. That is priceless.

      Thanks for reading and writing! XO — Modern Mary

    • Right! Love that line from “Sleepless in Seattle,” (god bless you Nora Ephron)
      Son to Dad: I hate you, I hate you!
      Dad to Son: Good! Then you’ll have something to tell Oprah!

      🙂 — Thanks for writing back! XO — Modern Mary

  2. Kids have a way of cutting us parents much deeper over things sometimes than we cut them. I think your daughter is well aware of her ability to drag that knife along and make her own cut 🙂 I know my monchers are experts at it, especially my daughter! Master Manipulators they are at a very early age! Scars are what give us character so dont stress too much about them. I relish every scar from my childhood and beyond because they are what make me who I am today and I love that person! Without them, I wouldnt be me! 🙂

    • You are so right! They do become master manipulators at a very wee age, which shocked the heck out of me at first. Now I’m used to it, but their ingenuity still surprises. I love what you say about scars being what give us character. That’s a good balance. Thanks for reading and commenting! XO – Modern Mary

  3. Beautiful post! I have a scar from my three C-Sections that I had to have. But it is a scar of love because I have three amazing children. Yes, the scar is not pretty but it represents one of my most cherished blessings! Great post! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  4. I struggle with getting the balance right with the after-school activities too – am I holding them back or is it just too ridiculous to fill up all their waking hours with (expensive) scheduled lessons? No doubt I am getting it wrong and I will be hauled into the therapists rooms to account for my actions…

    • I bet you are getting it more right than wrong, Sue Ann. My kids do one or two things each and then have lots of time to play whatever strikes their fancy. It seems to work, but there is always pressure to do more. And some days I wish I had signed them up for more! It sounds like you are carefully considering each opportunity, which is really what matters. Thanks for reading! XO — Modern Mary

  5. I think we would be surprised by the things that scar our children vs. the things that don’t. Once in a while my teenager will reference something that I consider trivial, something that I barely remember, but whatever it was had an impact on her that could not be anticipated. At the end of the day all I can do is demonstrate my love for her and hope that the things I got right will at least be adequate.

    • Being adequate feels great on days when you feel like you’ve screwed something up! This little episode struck me as funny, and also showed me how smart and emotionally clever little Prima can be. Thanks for reading! XO — Modern Mary

  6. You are a kind and compassionate mother to even consider the emotional scars that your children may carry. What a responsibility and gift we have as parents to influence their memories and lives! I can name every scar my sons have acquired, and the emotions that were felt. I can still recall the emergency trip watching my two year old fight and squirm the doctors trying to stitch his face together from a dog bite. But it was in this time, that I saw what a mighty and brave boy he is….

    Thank you for the encouraging and interesting read! I can relate to your husband’s clumsy nature 😉 Most of my scars are from gnarly cooking burns…

    • Thank you so much for your comments. You’re right, the scars our kids have also help us see their true mettle. I do love that about them. I hope you keep reading. It’s a pleasure to hear from you. XO — Modern Mary

  7. Cool post, just sitting here staring at my hands now. They hurt when I got them(scars) and hurt now , they also seem to come in pairs physical along side the emotional

  8. She’ll get over it. It’s ok to say NO to your children. Let her have her hissy fit. If you give in, then you’ve just undone all your logic in saying no. You know what’s best for her, not the other way around. And they won’t be scared because of the death of a grandparent. It’s the circle of life. Don’t shield them from that. We need that to appreciate what we have now. That, too, will pass in their lives and they will learn to accept it. Kids are more resilient than we give them credit for.

  9. I like to live by the philosophy that everything will work itself out in the end. Even if there are some scars — both physical and mental — they will heal in the end.

  10. Well written and great post! Being the youngest child of four growing up, I was never able to join the band, swim team or the soccer team, there had been too many complications and commitment problems with my siblings before I entered the age of interest. I remember crying for a day because of the band though, and then I continued with my ballet classes and piano lessons 🙂 Being adults now, we all laugh about it, and my Dad don’t even remember wich kid did what, but he does remember all the weekends driving us in different directions 🙂 Congratulations of beeing F.P.

  11. I love that – praying for all those poor children whose parents have kept them from band. She’s a wily one! 😉 Here’s hoping that little scuff heals up and is forgotten in the joy of other childhood happenings.

  12. **“I also want to pray for all of the children who want to do band but their parents won’t let them,” she intoned, reverently.**
    Hey this cracked me up, are you sure Prima isn’t playing you like a banjo? 😉

    This was an awesome post and it made me think.

    As most of my friends now have children (I’m still holding out), its amazing to me how mothers beat themselves up over a lot of little things I’d never expect. The guilt they suffer is as bad as when Catholic skip confession. But I know this concern is ingrained.

    Here’s my theory about scars— they only hurt when nothing was explained at the time, or explained but in a crappy way. When a child remembers a hurtful event, the aftermath is just as vivid. It sounds like you go out of your way to explain life in a soothing, nurturing way. This is what your children will remember when they look back!

    • Thanks, MB! I am certain Prima is playing me like a banjo. She’s very talented musician. LOL

      Great insights into the explanation of scarring events. I hope you are right. Thanks for reading and responding! XO — Modern Mary

  13. Beautifully done. And I’m of the opinion that a few minor “scars” make for a far more interesting adult!
    My sister used to joke with her daughter (in her teen years) whenever she had to hand down a disappointing parental decision, “Well, there’s another $100 for your future therapist.” My niece is a beautiful, talented, well-adjusted senior in college now (and engaged to the young man she’s been dating since mid-high school). She embraced the humor and looked at the statement as a reminder that life isn’t always fair and we don’t always get everything we want.

    • Sometimes friends are shocked about things like the band, that I don’t give in to something my child feels so strongly about. But I think that life isn’t always fair and it’s better that they learn that in the context of these four walls, filled with love, than in some other, more harsh way. Thanks for reading and for your comments! XO — Modern Mary

  14. It seems to me that the emotional scars that our parents give us have a big impact on the person we become and the attitude that we carry. But, sometimes the band-aids that they apply to those injuries are bigger than the scars. As a young adult I focused on those scars. As a man, I now see the band-aids.

    Thanks for the reminder that my folks tried to heal the hurts. 😉

  15. Scars- the very word rings bells of childhood: Picked last for “teams” in P.E., losing the family dog, goldfish, grandparent, wetting the bed, and not playing the trumpet. I *tried* to play the Cello in
    5th grade (70’s) in band with an old-codger for an instructor who was mean as the day is long.

    Children magnify simple events into catastrophe; or vice-versa.
    Perfect for soulless, maniacal “Real House-wives,” but a more constructive use of space would be playwright, writer, or PR.

    “Scars” are not always to be ashamed of- they are tokens of our humanity, perseverance, character, and dignity.

  16. Oh dear!!! I’m relieved that my little Tornado is still too young to guilt me toooooo much, and her brother is still in-utero so I’m safe for a couple of years there, too. But these scars are good, right? Aren’t they supposed to make them (and us) stronger? Right? RIGHT?

    • Absolutely! I think the pertinent question is where the scars will end up, on her or me? It does help to confess it all here, to write it out. Parenting is a perplexing set of emotional challenges that can also be so funny and enjoyable. Thanks for reading! XO — Modern Mary

  17. At least Prima expressed her disappointment through a charitable prayer and showed she was thinking of others. It’s so funny how we can want something so badly for a time, and then, eventually, realize it wasn’t so important after all. I’m sure she’ll get there someday.
    Very lovely post, and congrats on freshly pressed.

  18. Scars can show you that you have lived. Remembering “scars” , that were often really just childhood disappointments of not getting our own way, and carrying them into adulthood can leave us childish or help us mature. A lot depends on the individual’s free choice and nothing to do with you as a parent.

  19. I think this may have scarred you more than her. This might be one of those moments you look on as a parent later in life and wish you could undo. I have a couple of those. Interestingly, I cannot forget the worst day in my parenting life and would give anything to go back in time and re-do that day. I mentioned it to my 23-year-old son a few months ago and guess what? He doesn’t even remember it. Nor do I remember the day that my mother wishes she could take back and do over from when I was a kid.

    I guess only time will tell: will this be her scar, or yours?

    • Your comment gives me hope! 🙂 Thanks for that. Hopefully my scars will be deeper than hers. Err, I think. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your story and for reading my blog. I hope you stop back by! XO — Modern Mary

  20. I came to this post because I thought it would be totally different. It was however, a joy to read and (although I don’t have children right now) paints the picture of all the worries I’m sure to have one day. You really do write beautifully.

    And, now I have an idea for a blog post!

    Double thanks!

  21. I completely know what you mean about collecting scar stories. I used to often wear mine as a badge of honour, despite the fact that most were as exciting as an over-rack burn on my arm… or even less so. Perhaps it was a desperate attempt to look brave, lol!

  22. Very interesting post. As long-distance parent-mentor to a fatherless teen (soon to be 20!) in South Africa, my job is to try and counteract any emotional scars from an extremely challenging life — while not inflicting my own. It’s a tricky tightrope at times! I’m continually surprised to see the fragile heart and insecurity beneath my son’s blindly confident, self-absorbed, strongly opinionated, uber-male-ego exterior. My solution… empathetic love, tough love, compassionate love, consistent love. Every day. Good days and bad. After close conversations and father-son battles. I never received it growing up — it’s a wonder to see it at work from the other side.

    • It sounds like you are a thoughtful, loving father/mentor. I bet you are raising/parenting/mentoring a young man who will follow in those footsteps. Yes, you are right it is all a tight rope walk! Sometimes (often?) without a net. Thank you for reading! XO — Modern Mary

  23. Great post. I love the way kids think and the fact that she wanted to “Pray” over it was priceless. I believe our children have joined us parents for a reason. We are the exact parent they need, and will learn from. Scars are inevitable- and so much of what our children experience is in their interpretation – dependent on outlook, disposition, coping skills etc…. so much to protect them from as a parent? maybe not… maybe the best thing we can do is teach them how to recover because if they have this skill… they can heal from almost anything. A gift far more useful than band will ever be. XO

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