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Dan Conradt: Band-Aids for a 1,000 cuts

February 12, 2017 GMT

He had his left index finger so close to his face that he was looking at it cross-eyed; the finger was pointing at the ceiling in a “We’re Number One” gesture.

In his right hand he was holding a brown teddy bear by the ear.

“Dad? Are you in here?” 3-year-old Steven called out.

I was sitting at the kitchen table with that month’s bills spread out in front of me. I would have been hard to miss, but I guess he was focused on his finger.

“Right here,” I said. “What’s wrong?”

“I need a Band-Aid.”

“What happened?”

“I cut myself.”

Our house was so child-safe we had Nerf steak knives; I would hold off on calling 9-1-1.

“How did you cut yourself?” I asked.

“On my bear.”

“You cut yourself on your teddy bear?”

“Uh-huh.”

“How did you cut yourself on a teddy bear?”

“I don’t know. I was just playing with him and I cut myself.” He inserted a pathetic little whine into his voice: “It really hurts.”

“Let me see.”

He held his index finger in front of my face, so close that it turned me cross-eyed. I pushed his hand back until the finger came into focus

“Uh … I don’t see anything.”

He let the teddy bear drop to the floor and used his right index finger to point at his left one.

Again, the whiney voice: “Right here. It really hurts.”

Nope … nothing.

“Oh, NOW I see it,” I said. “Are you sure your bear didn’t bite you? CHOMP!”

“D-a-a-a-d … it hurts a LOT.”

“I’m sure it does,” I said, trying to sound sympathetic. “Is there anything we can do to make it feel better?”

“Well … maybe we can put a Band-Aid on it.”

“Do we have any Band-Aids?”

It was a rhetorical question: they were still in the plastic bag on the kitchen counter. His face brightened considerably: “We have some Clifford Band-Aids!” he said. “Can I have one?”

“I think that’s a good idea …”

We’d gotten home half an hour earlier with a dozen items from the dollar store. I’d said “Yes” when Steven asked if I would buy him something, and expected him to choose a coloring book, a pinwheel or a package of generic Oreos. He went one direction and I went another, and as I was loading a package of generic Oreos into my shopping basket I heard him behind me: “Dad, I want this!”

He was wearing an ear-to-ear smile and holding up a box of “Clifford The Big Red Dog” Band-Aids.

“Uh … sure.”

We paid for our things … 12 items, $12 plus tax … and drove home.

Half an hour later he was looking cross-eyed at a non-existent cut on his left index finger.

“Yeah,” I said, examining the finger. “I think a Band-Aid would help it a lot. But for a bad cut like this it would help if we washed it with soap and water.”

I could see the mental wheels turning: on the upside, he would get to wear a Band-Aid with a Big Red Dog on it. On the downside, he’d have to wash his hands.

“Will it sting?” he asked.

I made a show of examining the finger: “No, I don’t think it will. And it will also help it heal faster.”

“Can I still put a Band-Aid on it?”

“After it’s washed, sure.”

“OK …”

I was tempted to suggest a full bath, but didn’t want to push my luck.

We let the water in the bathroom sink run until it was lukewarm, then I soaped up the imaginary injury, rinsed it well and patted it dry with a clean towel.

“Does it feel better?” I asked.

“It still really hurts. Can we put a Band-Aid on it?”

“Sure, but first … ” I kissed a spot that I figured was close to the Teddy Bear injury, then I covered it with a Clifford Band-Aid.

“It’s not too tight, is it?”

“No, it feels a lot better. Thanks, Dad …”

It’s just part of a dad’s job, I thought: protector of children, healer of injuries, kisser of boo-boos.

Steven went back to his room and I went back to a pile of bills.

Ten minutes later: “Ow, ow, owwwww!”

Steven came limping into the kitchen.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I cut my foot …”

I think we’ll let Mom kiss this one …