Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Kind Of Thing Friends Do Together

Her mother tells me that normally she, the younger sister, is the bold one, but for whatever reason this two-year-old hasn't been particularly talkative during the week I've known her this summer. I can tell she wants to be friends, however, because it seems like whenever I turn around, whenever a gaggle of kids encircle me, whenever I'm looking for someone to talk to, there she is, making eye-contact and smiling. Yesterday, during one of our moments she showed me an index finger with a bandaid.

"You have a bandaid on your finger. Did you get an owie?"

She nodded, then showed me her other index finger, the one without a bandaid.

"That finger doesn't have a bandaid. That one doesn't have an owie."

She held her finger at me more insistently.

"You're showing me your finger."

Then she showed me her two fingers side-by-side, one with a bandaid, one without. She was trying to tell me something. We looked at each other for a moment, then I got it, "Do you need a bandaid for the other finger?"

She nodded vigorously.

I don't make kids prove they need bandaids. If they want one or a dozen, I supply them. Sometimes, of course, you can see the blood oozing out. Then I wash it up and help them apply it, but with bloodless owies like this one, I figure the kid is more an expert than me, even with the first aid training.

I brought her a bandaid, still in the package. She held her finger out to me. I wrapped the unopened bandaid around it, then let go. It fluttered to the ground. I said, "Maybe this one is broken." She picked it from the ground and handed it back to me. "I'll try again." Once more I wrapped the unopened bandaid around her finger and once more it fluttered to the ground. I said, "Maybe I should get a different one."

This time she took matters into her own hands. She showed me, wordlessly, the outline of the bandaid inside its wrapper, then said, "Get it out," but it wasn't an instruction for me, but rather an explanation of something she was going to do herself. For quite some time she pinched at the package, twisting it round and round in her fingers, looking for a way in. Finally, she found the tabs, grasping them between her small, strong fingers. Her fingers slipped once, twice, thrice. For a moment I thought the seal was going to be too much for her, but just before I offered my help, it gave way and she managed to peel it like a banana, handing the garbage to me.

When the bandaid was free from the wrapper, she gave it to me, as if to say, There, that's how to do it. I took it from her asking, "Now, should I put it on?" She nodded, so without removing the backing papers to reveal the adhesive, I wrapped it around her proffered finger once more, and once more it fluttered to the ground.

This time she didn't give me a second chance. Carefully, she peeled the backing off the bandaid, first from one side, then from the other, again handing me the garbage. The bandaid stuck to her fingertips and each attempt to free one finger resulted in another getting stuck. She then looked me right in the eye and said, "Help," so I did, taking the bandaid from her and carefully wrapping it around her finger.

She stood for a moment looking at her new bandaid, then her old one. I stood from my crouch, saying, "I'm going throw away the garbage." I showed her the debris I had collected in my fist. She took it from me in her own fist. I said, "The trash can is over there." We went there together. I lifted the lid and she dropped the waste over the rim. It's the kind of thing friends do together.

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