They are playing outside and one four-year-old nose gets in the way of one seven-year-old elbow. Shaymus runs in the house crying with hands cupped over his face. I say Let me see and he moves his hands and there is this absolute torrent of blood, he looks at his gory hands and then up at me with frozen panic face and he is shrieking, I sit him down and speak calmly and start mopping up and he cannot stop crying, he is terrified. He wants to know if his hands are bleeding? if his ears are bleeding? and crying so hard he has the hiccups.

Oh Shaymus Shaymus shhhh I say. It's ok, it's no big deal, it's just your nose you're gonna be fine. He has blood streaking up to his elbows and running down his neck but the flow has stopped already, the rest is just janitorial.

I hand him an ice pack but he holds up one hand, shaking his head. He says Yeah yeah I'm ok. I can go back outside now I think.

The thoughtless maturity of the gesture hits me like a slap, and I see that every one of his cells is busy making him older and bigger all the time. I think Not long now, you will be taller than me and something will hurt you, a woman or a death, and you will hold up one hand and try to shake off the pain. Suddenly I am not disappointed that I will lose this boy, but so proud of him for being brave, for not crying any longer than he has to. For being eager to stop hurting and get on with the fun.   Grownup tears panic kids more than their own blood so I send him back outside before he can see. Shaymus is a good boy, and I get to be here to see it happening.

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