It’s band-aid season at my house. I find them everywhere. In the washer after the spin cycle. Stuck to the carpet along the edges of my hall. Inside Nora’s socks. In my bed. Clinging for dear life to the drain in the bathtub. Curled up like a baby pigs’ ears on the floor of my van. Nora is obsessed with band-aids, or baa-baas as she calls them. We’ve gone through hundreds of them this summer. I’ve taken to putting the box up on top of the fridge to make it last longer. But then I get it down to take care of a real owie and forget to return it to safety and then I’ll discover an hour later that Nora has used up half the box in a concerted effort to baa-baa every exposed inch of flesh on her body and she has run into enough trouble with unwrapping and unsticking the rest that there are now two intact bandages left in the box, holding onto each other and quivering like the final contestants in a really cruel beauty pageant.
One day, with the band-aids safely out of reach, Nora made do with what she could find. She emerged from the bathroom with a broad grin and a strange shininess to her countenance. She had squozen (it’s a word if I say so!) the entire tube of Neosporin out on her lap and spread it thickly over her arms, legs and feet, like some kind of high-gloss, anti-bacterial spa treatment.
Nora’s just really into the concept of owies lately. When she gets a bona fide injury—and any scrape, mosquito bite, scuff, or broken toenail will do—she isn’t satisfied until the world kicks itself up to DEFCON 5 and slathers her with the urgent attention and ointment and flexible fabric bandages she so desperately requires. What amuses me the most is that when I plunk her next to the bathroom sink to attend to her wounds, she turns herself towards the mirror so she can watch herself cry. She’s tragically beautiful when she cries. There’s something about having your pain and suffering reflected back at you that doubles the call for self-pity. Oh the injustice of it all! She’s thinking. I never did anything to the sidewalk. Why has it bitten me? I am an adorable creature. Everyone tells me I’m the cutest thing ever to grace the planet. There’s just no call for that kind of vindictiveness. Then she tells me she needs “two baa-baas....and more” because there’s clearly blood involved this time and big-toe wounds are notoriously prone to gangrene.
Maybe this obsession is a sign that my daughter will someday find herself in a medical profession, like her brother Gabie. Or maybe she’ll just be a professional hypochondriac. I’m just hopeful that when summer ends, we’ll see a decrease in the band-aid consumption. This is the season that has introduced Nora to the thrill of the great outdoors. She loves to ride her little bike and run around wild and free with the big boys. The world is her oyster. Or maybe it’s her spiny sea urchin, judging by the injury rate.
One of the great masterpieces to survive from the Hellenistic period of sculpture is an image of a boy with a thorn in his foot. He sits on a pile of rocks with one leg crossed over the other knee, studying the bottom of his foot and tweezing out the thorn. It’s rare in Greek art to see children depicted in sculpture. Greeks were more interested in the ideal: the perfect athlete, the goddess of beauty, grown men with washboard abs and chiseled confidence. But here’s a child with a problem. He’s oblivious to all else but this thorn in his foot. The lines of the sculpture—his shins, arms, even the angle of his nose—all point us to the center of his space and the center of his attention. There’s this crucial, all-important thing he has to take care of before he can go anywhere. Once you have a thorn in your heel, it’s going to drive you crazy until you get it out, simple as that. Kids are simply more honest about the process of pain and pain relief. Why suffer in silence when the natural thing is to get help or at least help yourself? Adults should be so smart. If band-aids make my daughter feel better, she should have them, lots of them, boxes and boxes of them as long as they continue to work their magic, as long as her wounds are this easy to heal.