Ready to know more about San Diego?


Parental Indiscretion

Here's to a Skinned-Knee Summer
Rachel Laing​

By Rachel Laing

Parental Indiscretion: Burning Questions

Rachel Laing

Rachel Laing​

If you look closely at the chin of just about anyone in my generation (aka Gen X), you’ll see a thin, faded white line about a quarter-inch long—a scar earned from diving into a too-shallow pool, flipping over the handlebars of a bike, or perhaps flying off a skateboard that had been ridden, seated, down an extremely steep hill. Whether the scar is raised or not depends on whether the parents took him or her to the emergency room for stitches or decided a butterfly bandage would do the trick.

The generation we’re raising now will have no such identifying marks. This occurred to me the first time my son ever saw his own blood—nearly a decade into his life. From the screams that brought my husband and me racing to the front yard, I figured he’d lost a finger or two. In fact, he’d skinned his knee—something that had been a weekly occurrence in my life.

It’s time to toughen these kids up, I thought. This summer, we are going to make a dent in our value pack of Band-Aids that sits untouched in our medicine cabinet.

It’s time to toughen these kids up. This summer, we are going to make a dent in our value pack of Band-Aids.

Does it make me sad that my kids aren’t bleeding more, that my life is devoid of waits in the ER? Of course not. But I realized that I had a 9-year-old son who had spent his life cocooned in an invisible bubble wrap of our making. We’d never let him walk off our block without us, let alone explore the woods or get the chance to figure out what to do when you climb too high up a tree.

I was ready to chalk this up to nostalgia for my own childhood, when—by the grace of God—we survived riding without seat belts in the backs of station wagons and pickup trucks. But a few months ago, we moved to a house on a canyon, and the kids next door immediately came to meet ours and play. The first order of business was exploring the canyon.

The trip was dicey; my son got paralyzed with fear on a log and had to be rescued by an older kid, after screaming for him to call 911 and have firefighters come. “My life flashed before my eyes!” he told me through tears as I tried not to smirk.

But now, just a few months later, what motivates the kids to finish their chores is being allowed to go scrambling down the huge log into the canyon and disappear into the brush, while I listen for them at the open window, my heart racing when I can’t hear their voices.

By the numbers, so far we have: three skinned knees, one skinned elbow, about 2,000 tears—and two kids finally being kids.

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA