I recently spent 10 minutes trying to find a “boo-boo” on my 2-year-old grandson Gabriel’s finger. I even used a magnifying glass to examine every millimeter of skin, until finally asking him, “Is this a real boo-boo or an imaginary boo-boo?” But like most youngsters, and their parents, he couldn’t differentiate between reality and fantasy.
Needless to say, I’ve devoted a good part of my career as father and grandfather to searching for boo-boos and kissing boo-boos that I couldn’t see. Boo-boos you can’t see are the worst kind.
Boo-boos are the scourge of childhood, as any parent or semi-retired parent knows — you never really “retire” from parenthood. There’s no greater crisis than a cut finger or scraped knee and the accompanying tears. Whenever any of my kids whimpered, “I have a boo-boo,” I sprang into action like an Urgent Care Superman and raced for the first-aid kit.
My fourth daughter seemed to need a Band-Aid for every occasion when she was young. If she bumped her elbow, she wanted a Band-Aid. If she broke a finger nail, she pleaded for a Band-Aid. If she had a black-and-blue, we brought out a colorful selection of Band-Aids. If she was going to a birthday party, she had to go with a Band-aAd displayed somewhere on her body.
We applied Care Bear and Disney Band-Aids to her hands, arms and knees even when there was no visible boo-boo. Any more Band-Aids, and she would have looked like the Mummy’s daughter.
When I visited her recently, my grandson Mason got an alleged boo-boo while playing with his truck. His parents searched unsuccessfully for it and then tried to convince him he didn’t really have one, but he wasn’t convinced. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I suggested they put a Band-Aid on him anyway. Since his mother had a Band-Aid addiction, I figured she’d appreciate my strategy, but your kids never listen to you when it comes to parenting. In the olden days, they said, “Father knows best.” Now, they say, “Father knows nothing.”
Most kids love Band-Aids that have Spider-Man, Hello Kitty and the Avengers on them. (Are Kardashian Band-Aids the next big thing?) They are comforted to have cartoon characters on their bodies, and when they grow up, I suspect they satisfy this same urge by getting Speedy Gonzales tattoos on their keisters.
Treating boo-boos is a lifelong responsibility, I’ve learned. On New Year’s Eve, we got a frantic call from a daughter who cut her finger in the food processor by doing something I thought was virtually impossible. There was blood, hysteria and near fainting, so she did what every kid, young or old, does in an emergency and called her mother.
Yes, Mom to the rescue. Her husband wasn’t good enough. Channeling Florence Nightingale, my wife immediately gave first-aid advice over the phone — keep the cut elevated, apply pressure, put ice on it. Then, she grabbed a box of Care Bear Band-Aids left over from the 1989, jumped in the car and raced to our daughter’s house 35 minutes away while I yelled, “TELL HER TO GO TO URGENT CARE! WHY DOES SHE NEED YOU? SHE HAS A HUSBAND! IT’S NEW YEAR’S EVE!”
But what do fathers know — or husbands for that matter? The medical staff of Yale New Haven Health couldn’t compare with her mother, ably assisted by the Care Bears. However, there was another problem. My daughter’s medicine cabinet wasn’t sufficiently stocked with the necessary first-aid items to deal with big boo-boos.
So instead of celebrating New Year’s Eve, I roamed the city streets, searching for a pharmacy to buy gauze, adhesive tape, bandages, a finger splint and Bactine, which I did without complaining because … once a dad, always a dad.