It will be better by the time you are married — this it what my mom uttered each time I got a scrape, bruise, or sprained an ankle. I spent much of my childhood playing tackle football with boys in alleys. Bruises went with the territory.
This past weekend, as Gorilla Girl was in the bath, that phrase returned to me. I noticed that Gorilla Girl had several bruises covering her shins and knees. I refrained from uttering my mother’s mantra (GG would not have understood it anyway), but I did have to tell myself to take the evidence of her great physical activity in stride. Today, Gorilla Girl fell during playtime outside, and has a noticeable abrasion on her chin. Apparently, moments after she visited the school nurse for the abrasion, she was running in the hallway and smashed her beautiful previously unblemished cheek into a door.
Gorilla Girl is an apt appellation. Gorilla Girl runs, as she says, because that is what people do. She lives in a house with runners and coaches, so no wonder.
This summer several bigger girls were teasing Gorilla Girl on the playground. She darted from them, leaping over a small brick wall, to reach me. Older though they were, they could not match her speed and agility. I scooped her up, and wiped away her tears. We have since talked about her speed as she escaped the bigger girls. They couldn’t catch Gorilla Girl.
There is a lesson here, maybe about beauty, maybe about speed or something else entirely. I know my mother was concerned that I not have scars, or any visible signs of my sometimes overly spirited physical activity. It perhaps had something to do with her worries about how it would look to outsiders (my brother was in the ER so often that my parents were briefly questioned; my brother was just accident prone). Maybe it was worry that I would NOT find a husband — and even if the scars healed, it would be for naught.
Gorilla Girl’s physical activity defines her –not all of her, but a part of her. I admire it and hope that she can enjoy it, make it purposeful in her life, and not worry about the visible scars. I hope that she can take pride in the scars.
Scars, like trophies, when earned in joyful pursuit of the life of the body, testify to our natures. Here’s to Gorilla Girl making a map of stories to tell in those bodily trophies.