Band-Aids and Bloody Knees

by Alyssa von Helms

June 27, 2018

Finley - Golden Retriever

Recently I’ve been thinking about scabs. It’s not a subject I mull over often—I don’t have any kiddos running around with banged up knees and it’s been a few years since I was that age myself, so it’s easy to forget about the “growing pains” of growing up—but a little while ago I was reminded about scabs again.

My family owns a beautiful Golden Retriever: Finley, six years old, the light of our lives, the terror of our neighborhood. For some reason, our dog—who in general is incredible around kids of all ages and gets along with small dogs, large dogs and most of humanity—becomes another creature entirely when you put a leash on him and take him for a walk. We’ve gone to classes and trainers but the result is the same. Finley believes he is part of the Secret Service and has taken a solemn vow to protect his family from all threats, real or otherwise.

Which meant that recently I was caught in a perfect storm involving our evening walk, my dog’s leash, and some innocent woman trying to take out her trash. I don’t even remember falling, just that my dog lunged and the next thing I knew I was on my hands and knees on the asphalt, with the wind—and all pride—knocked out of me.

I gasped out an apology, we finished our walk, and made it home where I could assess the damage. It wasn’t pretty. My knees were already purpling with bruises the size of my palms, I’d pulled a muscle in my leg, and my right knee was sporting a scrape ugly enough that not even two jumbo Band-Aids could cover it.

To say that I was ready to pull an Old Yeller on my Tasmanian Retriever was an understatement.

As I write this, it’s been about a week since The Incident. (Don’t worry, my dog is still alive.) My bruises are a lovely sunset yellow and my scabby scrape is smaller, although it itches constantly. I could think of it as the thorn in my side, except I’ve grown a little more affectionate toward it lately. Wearing Band-Aids on my knee made me feel like a child again—and I’m thankful for it.

Kids are so transparent. They cry when they’re upset, they shriek when they’re happy, they’re tactlessly honest, and physics reminds them daily that their souls may be big but their bodies are less in control than they think. Jesus calls us to become like little children (Matthew 18:3). I don’t think He meant, “Let your dog drag you down the street,” but if having a scab on my knee is what it takes for me to remember that no, I’m not as in charge of my life as I think I am and that’s okay, then so be it.

Alyssa works at Fullerton Free and spends her free time trying new coffee shops, writing her (endless) novel, and contemplating the benefits of pets that don’t require walks.

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