Of course, we keep a supply of bandages in our first aid kits for real blood lettings, but I also always have a box of my own at hand for those less serious (e.g., non-existent or ancient) owies.
This is how it typically goes, "Teacher Tom, I need a bandaid."
"Do you have a bloody owie?"
She shows me the afflicted body part. Sometimes she'll confess it's not bloody any longer, but it was bloody yesterday. We'll usually have a discussion about how she got her owie.
"Okay, let me get you a bandaid." I remove one from the box saying, "I'll have to show you how it works."
"I know how, Teacher Tom."
"No you don't, I'm the grown-up and you're the kid. Show me your owie . . . Okay, so this is how it works. I have to stick it on." I then wrap the bandage, still in its wrapper, around her finger or knee. As it falls to the floor I say, "There, that's how it works . . . Hey, something's wrong with this bandaid! Let me try again." When it falls to the floor again, I say, "This bandaid is broken. I'll have to get you another one."
"No, Teacher Tom. You have to open it first."
I'm flummoxed. "What do you mean?"
"Open it . . . " This is usually when she takes matters into her own hands. Sometimes it's not the child with the owie, but rather an onlooker. "I'll show you."
As she starts removing the wrapper, alarmed, I'll say something like, "You're tearing it!" By this time, we've usually drawn a crowd. Someone will assure me that the bandage is just being opened. Once the bandage is removed from its wrapper, I officiously take it in hand again, saying something like, "Okay, now I'll show you how it works," and proceed to attempt to stick it to the owie without removing the backing from the adhesive side, which naturally results in it again fluttering to the floor. If she still has patience with me, I go through the whole "it's broken" routine again, but more often than not she snatches it back from me and proceed to apply it herself.
Once the wrapping has been disposed of properly, I'll say something like, "There I taught you how to put on a bandaid."
And more often than not she'll object, saying, "No, I showed you."
It's all part of my curriculum of teaching the children of Woodland Park to question authority.
I'm sure I'm not the only preschool teacher for whom boxes of bandages are a classroom essential.
At the beginning of each school year, during our monthly parent meeting, the parents of our incoming 2-year-olds give the rest of us tips on how to comfort their child when upset. "Bandaids" are always high on the list of comfort items, usually right after "distraction" and "books." It makes sense. Bandages are a concrete symbol of caring and healing.
Sometimes we make art with them, but more often than not we use them to heal our bloody babies who are tragically covered in bloody owies.
It's dramatic play . . .
. . . it's a way to work on fine motor skills . . .
. . . we have conversations about our own experiences with owies . . .
. . . and talk about body parts . . .
. . . and emotions. Oh, those poor, poor babies!
After awhile their owies will heal and they'll be all better.