I’ve come to realize that one of my failings in my motherhood is my perspective on band-aids.
Do your kids think every wound is magically healed with the application of a band-aid? Mine do, and it really bugs me—most times when they ask for a band-aid I tell them no, they don’t need a band-aid, I’m not getting a band-aid to put on that tiny scratch.
I don’t know why I’m like that though—they’re easy and inexpensive and band-aids do absolutely make the kids feel better. Just the other day my littlest guy had a hangnail, and you would have thought his hand was falling off. He whimpered and fussed about it all morning, holding his hand in the air, refusing to use that hand to do anything. We all know how painful those tiny hangnails are, especially when they catch on things, but he and I were out and about running errands that morning, and I just really didn’t know what to do for him—until I remembered the first-aid kit I keep in the van. I asked him if he’d like a band-aid, and he immediately shook his head yes, and I put the band-aid on, and he stopped fussing. He continued holding his hand in the air for the rest of the day, and showed the band-aid to anyone who glanced in his direction, but he was happy and he felt better—which has always been the case with any of my kids in regards to band-aids, no matter how big or small the injury—so I really don’t know why I don’t just relax more about them.
I was telling a friend about this recently—the very day my boy was showing his bandaged hangnail to anyone who would look—and she was agreeing that band-aids often seem to help kids feel better, and said that she’s found that ice packs seem to have the same effect. Of course! I’d forgotten about ice packs! Ice packs were one of my mother-in-law’s go-to’s, God rest her. Any kind of trip or bump by the kids, any whimper of any kind, and she went running for an ice pack. It always seemed to me maybe a little melodramatic, and I didn’t want my kids to be wimpy, but it is true they always seemed to feel better with an ice pack, and her care for their little-boy bumps and bruises was one of the many reasons my kids were crazy about her.
I’ve suffered with terrible springtime allergies for most of my life, and when I was in high school and playing softball just about every night of the week during my peak pollen months, I’d often come home with eyes so swollen that I was asked more than once if someone had punched me. My mom would soak two chamomile tea bags in cold water, then wrap them in a clean cloth and tell me to lie on the couch with the tea-cloth on my eyes. She’d read somewhere that doing so would help irritated allergy eyes (and it’s totally a thing, the internet confirms!), but the psychological benefits were just as helpful to me. It was so soothing to be relieved of all my responsibilities for a while (“Sorry Dad, I can’t help with the dishes—Mom says I have to lay here with this cloth on my eyes”). Mom would come sit on the couch next to me, and fuss over me, and I was comfortable and would often doze off, and after a while my eyes felt so much better. To this day, the tea-cloth evenings, which I still do when I need to, are an actual bright spot to having pollen allergies.
So I should totally get the band-aid and ice-pack thing, because I think they’ve got some similarities to the tea-cloth thing: they’re as much psychological balms as physical ones, and they’re a little bit like badges of honor—a little bit of, “Yes, I’m suffering, you may feel free to treat me in a special and sensitive manner.” Which I guess we all need from time to time.
Fortunately for my kids, my husband is the opposite of me in regards to the band-aids (which makes sense, since he was raised by the ice-pack lady). He’s sensitive to what will help them feel better and quick to make it happen—a nice balance to my No Wimps! mentality.
I’m determined to do better with this. I have “band-aids” on my shopping list as I write this. I might even get ones with characters on them, which I’ve never done before. Maybe it’s because my allergy season has begun that I’m feeling extra empathetic (which can be counted as another bright spot to having allergies, right?), or maybe because it was a year ago this month that my mother-in-law passed away and she’s on my mind. Whatever the reason, if you see my boys covered in band-aids this spring, you’ll know why.