Once near the five boxes of Band-Aids we keep in the bathroom (plain, princess, animal, cartoon of the month and superhero) sometimes they point to an actual abrasion and at others they will point to an imaginary one. This routine (which is way less cute than it sounds) can escalate to loud and whiny at lightening speed if this ask is not met with a sticky plastic strip. Which is doubly hard to handle in an enclosed bathroom.
But if I concede to the band-aid request, the response is better than Christmas morning. The joy and elation that comes over them is kind of unexplainable.
It can’t be that the children are just so excited to have Dora or SpongeBob or Spiderman on their toe. Because they already have their favorite guy on their shirt, shoes, socks, underwear, pillow, comforter, walls, light fixture, lunchbox, juice box, hat, sword and necklace. The seeming endorphin rush must be linked to the idea that this person/thing/or idea they admire is actually on or in or now a part of their body. Which kind of makes me wonder…
Are band-aids starter tattoos for kids?
Does the bright color that doesn’t come off – on their once clean and bare arm/leg/left eyebrow – make the statement that tells the world who they see themselves as in the same way a tattoo does?
The behaviors that immediately follow the application of a band-aid also seem to support this theory. Or that band-aids are actually addictive drugs for children. It’s one or the other though, for sure, because the first thing the newly decorated/inked child thinks of is where they want their next band-aid.
“Mom, can I have another one for right here! Just one more! Please! Please! Please!!! Right here! GIVE IT TO ME MOM. Give. It. To. Me!” This is often followed by a throw of the body to the floor, or a lurch for the band-aid box itself.
Whether I concede to the multiple band-aid request or not it is followed by a honeymoon period for the new body art. Any and all visitors will be shown the improved body part and be instructed to be careful of the wound and pain underneath it. Sometimes a limp will be added, or an arm will be held in the other hand as if it is inoperable. These phantom injuries will fade but not the idea that the kid is harder/prettier/cooler than before the band-aid. That euphoria can last all afternoon.
But as darkness falls, reality comes a calling. In most homes, Band-Aids go to the graveyard at bath or bedtime. Trying to convince a toddler to remove one is like watching someone kick heroine. First they deny that it has to come off at all. Then the fear and panic about the pain (or loss of the man or woman they had become with this statement on their body) is let out. It’s often let out in a wail, kick or punch to the pillow or wall or parent depending on your child and how cool your Band-Aids are.
After all the drama is done, and the band-aid is removed, there is an actual period of loss. Of mourning, to be exact. A silence and a longing that comes over my kids, while my young princess or warrior stands silently and alone in the shower and comes back to their earthbound, less powerful selves.
Until tomorrow, when we might open the band-aid box again.