by Diane Farr

My kids will do anything for a Band-Aid. Including lie or steal.

By 3 years old, all of my children had already learned how to stick out a lower lip, squint their eyes as if about to cry and whimper about an "owie" while doing a sidestep toward the bathroom medicine chest. I swear my 5-year-old can even tilt his head toward the "Band-Aid closet" and intimate to me, "All this behavior will stop if you just GIVE ME THE BAND-AID."

Once near the five boxes of Band-Aids we keep in the bathroom (plain, princess, animal, cartoon of the month and superhero), sometimes my kids will point to an actual abrasion; other times they will point to an imaginary one. This routine, which is way less cute than it sounds, can escalate to loud and whiny at lightning speed if their demands are not met with a sticky plastic strip.

But if I accede to the Band-Aid request, the response is better than Christmas morning. The joy and elation that come over my kids is kind of unexplainable.

It can't be that the children are just so excited to have Dora or SpongeBob or Spider-Man on their toe. They already have their favorite character 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 a brightly colored adhesive bandage on a child's once clean and bare arm/leg/left eyebrow make an identity statement 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, 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.

Regardless of whether I accede to the multiple Band-Aid request, there is a honeymoon period for the new body art. Any and all visitors will be shown the improved body part and instructed to be careful of the wound and pain underneath it. Sometimes a limp will be added, or an arm 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 persuade toddlers to remove one is like watching someone kick heroin. 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 all day 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 removed, there is an actual period of loss. Of mourning, to be exact. A longing that comes over my kids while my young princess or warrior stands silently and alone in the shower and comes back to an earthbound, less-powerful self.

Until tomorrow, when we might open the Band-Aid box again.


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