Know any kids obsessed with Band-Aids? Of course you do. If they have ever had one, a child wants MORE. Band-Aids are super-fun, like temporary tattoos you can reposition and replace whenever you like. You can identify yourself easily as a fan of Spider-Man, Perry the Platypus, or Cinderella, and their pleasant (or intense in the case of Perry) faces can peep up at you throughout the day.
I have heard from more than one mother of a child in daycare or parents' day out that a surprising by-product of their group childcare was a collector's passion for Band-Aids. And, of course, the Band-Aid is the ultimate balm to a much-loathed vaccination; woe to the doctor's office that only has plain in stock!
However, I would hazard that our kids' Band-Aid obsession has a deeper significance than they, or perhaps even we, can articulate. In a couple of slightly different ways, the Band-Aid attracts the attention our hearts are longing for.
As an adult, when will you wear a bandage? When your wound is really ghastly or when you need others to know that you have been injured. Kids are less likely to think, "I need to put on this Band-Aid so I don't get germs and dirt in this wound that could cause an infection." But they will often show off their Band-Aids, hopefully giving them the opportunity to regale you with stories of their near-death disaster or draw your concern and kindness, and perhaps even a special reward!
Band-Aids are cool, the body art that kids love (ever known a toddler that didn't use that marker pack on their own personal canvas?) Band-Aids attract special favor from the general public. But more poignantly, Band-Aids fill a need for individual validation that humans are constantly seeking.
You have possibly experienced a physical ailment that couldn't be classified by doctors. Your family or friends wished you would stop complaining about it. You deeply want someone to validate your pain, but empathy was in short supply. More likely, you've had a sickness of heart or spirit that was not understood. You were unable to express your pain in words, and you so desired someone to crawl up next to your pain and help you push past it.
Enter the Band-Aid. A small child lives in the moment. The pain on which they're focused is the most immediate, and they need you, as a caregiver, to come up beside it and help them push past it. There are many ways to go about this, but one which symbolically and even physically attends is the Band-Aid. When a caregiver pulls out the Band-Aid, the child's feeling of pain is validated. There may be no blood. The skin may be completely unscathed. This is unimportant. Physical pain is a cakewalk for a parent compared to hurt feelings.
And so we stock Band-Aids. We offer them as a sign to communicate love and understanding, not just as a medical expedient. The Band-Aid says, "I believe you. I believe you are hurting. I believe you need my help. I want to help you."
"Do you feel better now?" The answer is so often, "Yes," we keep doing this over and over through the years.
I think a lot about children and how they deal with pain, injury, medical procedures, and hospitalizations. By and large they handle it better than adults would. There are many reasons I hope to explore, but an important one is that usually there is someone alongside them who validates their pain, someone who would do anything in the world to take that pain away. Even though their caregiver can't do that, they offer balms to the spirit and the heart that so many of us as adults lack when we are in pain.
Do you have any Band-Aids you can offer today? I've received meals after babies and hospital stays, designer hand-me-downs in the midst of painful budget restraints, and phone calls and visits when I've been lonely. We all still need our Band-Aids. We still want special attention and adornment, but most of all, we want our feelings to reside not solely in our own hearts and heads, but to be real and shared, validated by someone we love.