A friend and I swapped kid head wound stories recently. Here’s mine:

Nick was six at the time. We’d played at Moonstone Beach all day, the kids and I. One of those long, sunny, warm summer days. We left the beach about 8:30 p.m., still in daylight, and stopped at HSU to pick Bobby up from art class. The sun dropped as we walked from the art building back to the parking lot. I was exhausted and very ready to get my tired, hungry kids home.

You know that clump of rhody bushes between the Van Duzer and the Art Building? Over by the stairs heading down toward Gist? Well, Nick shouted, “I’m taking a shortcut!” and ran off under them – but then shrieked in pain a second later. I thought he’d just clocked himself and did this sort of “oh, honey, you’ll be OK, let’s just get to the car and home and I’ll take care of it.” A moment later Chelsea, who was walking on the other side of Nick, said, “Mom! Nick’s bleeding!”

Oh, really?

I turn him around and see blood gushing down the side of his head. After a moment of “Oh my God!”, I flag down a handy UPD officer and score some gauze. Bobby and I momentarily debate which ER to take him to – Mad River is closer to HSU, but St. Joe’s was closer to home. Since he’d already been to St. Joe’s (‘nother story), we opted to go that direction.

I sat in back, holding the blood-soaked gauze to his head and telling myself, and everyone else, “It can’t be that bad.”

At St. Joe’s, they get him right in and start spraying his wound with Lydocaine. At this moment, I have two severe reactions.

The first comes because the Lydocaine is stinging him, making him scream in pain. The most powerful urge to grab the doctor and fling her away from my son fills me up – she’s hurting him! I clench the hand I don’t have on Nick into a fist. I’m so angry at the doctor for causing him pain.

Thankfully intellect outweighs instinct and no one does any flinging. The second reaction comes from the sight of my son’s scalp torn open, Lydocaine washing enough blood away that I can clearly see the wounded, torn, jagged meat of his head. My stomach lurches. I maintain, but think to myself, “I have to remember to throw up later.”

Next thing I know, they’re ch-chunking staples into his head, heedless of his filthy hair – we had been at the beach all day. I expected them to shave and stitch, but apparently stapling was the way to go. Nick was very brave during this part.

We took the little Frankenboy home. He had the staples taken out a week or so later and was brave again.

His hair parts along the crooked scar sometimes.