Needed: Placebo Band-Aids

My son Arlo is sporting Michael Jackson fingers today. Unlike MJ though, who appeared to use electrical tape, the tip of each one of Arlo’s fingers is individually wrapped with colorful Band-Aids adorned with images of Dora the Explorer, Tinkerbell, Strawberry Shortcake, and seven other bubbly characters I can’t remember. A stranger might assume he’d been up all night gnawing at his digits in anticipation of defending his pre-school thesis.

After having them on for five minutes or so, he inevitably wants to pick something up but can’t due to his papier-mâchéd finger tips. So he pulls off the Band-Aids, finishes whatever toddler chore he convinced himself was so important, and promptly requests that the old bandages be reapplied. But that’s impossible, because once a Band-Aid has adhered to itself, un-sticking it is more delicate than performing heart surgery on a baby bird (total guess).

Eventually, he tires of watching us struggle to unfurl Dora’s warped face and says “New Band-Aid.” The old ones are left on the floor until someone throws them in the garbage or a cat bats them under the oven. Our house looks like the inside of a Red Cross medical tent; wrappers and used dressings strewn about as if nurses had been manically trying to patch-up victims of an acid rain disaster.

Arlo’s torn through nearly an entire box and it’s only 11am. It’s similar to the problem we had with gummy vitamins which I’ve written about before. Trader  Joe’s doesn’t have to make them so goddamn delicious that kids think they’re candy. We had to get gummy placebos just to insure our children didn’t overdose on omega 3 fish oils.

Johnson & Johnson must know that kids are using Band-Aids as body art. If they honestly thought every bandage sold was used on an actual wound, they would have expanded into the helmet and kneepad business by now, or at least created a charitable organization that teaches children how to stop falling down all the time. But, instead of providing us with cheaper, re-usable adhesive tattoos — basically fake Band-Aids —  they encourage us to buy a more expensive bandage with a useless antibacterial pad that’s probably turning my kid’s finger tips into a breeding grounds for the newest super bug.

And no, I can’t just throw a sheet of puffy stickers in front of him and say, “Here. These are Band-Aids.” There’s specific un-packaging, peeling and ripping procedure that’s a crucial part of the ritual for him.

I suppose we could just say no, and stand firm with our decision no matter what his reaction,  but we want him to be a happy and eccentric little dude. Plus, in the grande scheme of life, what’s $600 a year on Band-Aids? Text books for his first two years of college, you say? Good point.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

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