Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Growing Pains

My Mom says that when she was little, she knew she would finally be grown-up when she no longer had scabs on her knees. I think she used to tell me this because I always had scabs on my knees as a kid. But I've been surprised, over these past nine years, that Monk has not had the same experience. In fact, he had one really bad fall when he was about three-years-old that he still talked about for years afterward. He was at daycare, standing on a bench, and he tried to grab a rope and swing on it. But he missed and fell--pretty much breaking his fall with his face, leaving a large abrasion. For a while we thought it would leave a scar. And for a while after it was clear it hadn't, Monk was convinced it had. :) He sort of clung to that injury as a badge of honor of some kind. Or, in his more dramatic moments, as evidence of his tragedy-filled existence.

But in recent months, he's finally started to get the abrasions and scabs I remember as being a daily part of growing up. Maybe two weeks of hockey camp had something to do with that. :) But I also think it has to do with a little more boldness on his part--a willingness to throw himself into things (literally?) with abandon. I think it's wonderful. And I can't help but beam at him when he comes home with the latest scrape. "Aw man, I'm proud of you!" I hear myself declaring.

Yesterday he went with a friend and his family to the beach for the day. Because Monk is an only child, I know there are ways we overprotect him more than other families. (Uh, hence the lack of scrapes...) So this trip was a big deal for us, well, especially me. DRD, who has always seen when Monk is ready to do things before I seem to see it, didn't worry nearly as much as I did. I always hope I keep my worrying out of sight of the boy, but judging by my Mom's lack of success in that area when I was a kid, I probably don't hide it near as well as I think I do.

Anyway, Monk came home with bruised and scraped up shins. Apparently he was running through the water with the other boys and slammed into a rock covered in barnacles. ("Covered in barnacles" seemed to be an essential part of the story whenever he told it.) I glowed at him when he showed me his scrapes. They match his currently scabbed elbow quite well. We're finally starting to go through Band-Aids around here!

This morning, he came out of the shower complaining that his foot hurt. Turns out he also managed to get a splinter yesterday. We dug at it for a little bit with the tweezers, but it wouldn't budge. "I wish I had Deshler's Salve!" I said.

My Mom had an ancient jar of Deshler's Salve that she would always take out when one of us got a splinter. It would draw the splinter out after a day or so, requiring no digging with pins or tweezers. It was a goopy, sticky, brownish salve with an oily smell to it. I had the feeling it had come from my grandmother's medicine cabinet.

After excavating in Monk's foot unsuccessfully for a while, I turned to Wiki-How. They suggested that you make a paste of baking soda and water, put it on the splinter, cover it with a Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. After that, the splinter ought to be drawn out enough to grab easily with tweezers. So we're giving that a try today.

In the meantime, I looked up Deshler's Salve and discovered that it hailed from Germantown / Mt Airy in Philadelphia--our old stomping grounds! Mrs. Deshler (who was related to the Wisters, in case any of you locals are reading this) purchased the salve from her butcher. (It was called butcher's salve for awhile.) But over the years, it came to be known as Deshler's Salve. Looks like its ingredients are quite odd. According to the website HerbData New Zealand, here's the recipe for Deshler's: Resin 23, yellow wax 22, prepared suet 30, turpentine oleoresin 12, linseed oil 13. Melt together the resin, wax, and suet, and add the turpentine oleoresin and linseed oil ; continue the heat, if necessary, until the mixture is liquefied, strain and stir until it congeals.

Turpentine?! Suet?! Linseed oil?!

And here's where I discovered the history of the salve: Excerpt from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.


Anonymous said...

Dear JWD, I have found the page in your family diary quite interesting and that from two reasons. Firstly, you have a son who you call a Monk. Perhaps it is his real name but I incline to the assumption it is a nick name. Very unusual name anyway, in this XXI century, not fitting with the spirit of the times. Not fitting did I say? Perhaps even more fitting than what we would think... The boy is very special and I suggest you listen to him, and guide him gently through his childhood into adulthood. He will turn our exceptionally well…He only needs a loving attention. I’m sure he has it. He may come with many strange ideas and observations. Do not discard them, but reflect about them. Do not laugh at him. He has a special gift which needs understanding and nourishment…You will be well rewarded.
Then there is the fragment about the Deshler’s salve. It will be good to share on your blog the whole receipe, not just giving a link which leads only to the library.
Wish you good luck

revabi said...

That must be some salve, sounds like something my grandma had too.

We protect but encourage bumps and bruises, and don't make a big deal over hurts. Ya can't go through childhood without a few.

Does the Vermont store carry it? They carry just about everything there is and then some.

JWD said...

PF, thanks for your kind thoughts. I assure you we feel very privileged to share our lives with Monk.

RevAbi, I just checked at the Vermont Store website (never heard of them before, thanks!), but they don't carry it. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to use it now that I know the ingredients. :) Looks like the baking soda concoction worked just fine! Then again, what's in baking soda????

Mary Beth said...

My grandma used to just soak our foot in turpentine to draw out a splinter.

'Course, that was turpentine country, and I had a great-uncle who made a fortune on it.

Amy said...

I threw away some of that salve from my grandparent's medicine cabinet after they died two years ago. I hated the smell as a kid, but when I opened up that jar the day I cleaned out the medicine cabinet, a wave of memories came back to me. My grandfather used that salve like the Greek family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding used windex.

Thanks for your story.

Counselor in Process said...

My mother used to use an ordinary paste of bar soap as a drawing salve. You have to let it dry so that might be a problem for a young boy. The modern cure-I hear at the office- is Elmers Glue. You paint it on, let it dry, the peel it off and it pulls out whatever is underneath. Voila!.