The Boy Who Dived


I arrived home from school this afternoon to find William waiting for me at the car door, proud to show me his latest injury: a slit in the skin of his forehead, starting just at the middle of his brow and extending into his hair line.

I was horrified.

“What happened?” I asked him, and visions Of All Kinds began tumbling through my brain, including but not limited to the time he cracked his forehead open on a plastic (plastic) cup at eighteen months old and the time he cracked his chin open on the bathroom counter at two and half years old and the time my little sister cracked her forehead open on a radiator at three years old.

“What happened?” I asked him.

And he told me, casually, off-handed, that he split it on the bottom of his Nana’s pool earlier in the afternoon when he was doing a penguin dive.

A penguin dive?

Yeah, you know: the dive with your arms pinned to your sides.

And now new horrors surfaced in my mind: when I was eleven years old, I read the beginning (and only the beginning, so great was my horror) of a book called Joni, the story of a young woman who does a jackknife dive into the Chesapeake Bay and breaks her spine against the sandy bottom, never to walk (or use her arms) again. Yes, that book (what little of it I read) horrified me, and I have never really been able to dive because of it.

In fact, just a few weeks ago– Just A Very Few Weeks Ago– I told my sons Never Ever Dive into water when you are uncertain of its depth, and Never Ever Dive into water unless your hands are out in front of you. Better a broken wrist than a broken neck Any Day.

I sat there staring at him and this bloody split in his forehead and felt Immeasurably Grateful that he had walked to the car to meet me and was standing there in front of me and was Perfectly Well and (almost completely) Whole.

He said that, while it wasn’t hurting any longer, it had Really Hurt when it happened. It felt, he said, like Rowling’s description of Voldemort reaching into Harry Potter’s brain. And it’s unfortunate that the injury is So Entirely Straight and will leave only a Very Slight Scar, one that will almost certainly Disappear.

Still, he claims that he is a New and Improved Harry Potter: he doesn’t need glasses, and his cut is tidy.

He did note, with some small disappointment and at a time unrelated to this latest accident, that last night, on his eleventh birthday, he failed to receive an “owl” and an invitation to Hogwarts.


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