The toddler and the paper cut

paper cut

The day started as any other. Bean, his parents, and his baby brother sat down to enjoy breakfast together. Yogurt, toast, and an apple: it was a typical breakfast for Bean, who was blissfully unaware that this meal could very well be his last.

After breakfast, Bean made his usual request to watch a show. His parents offered the usual alternatives: trucks, playdough, trucks in playdough… or a colouring book. Bean chose to colour.

Little did he know the impact that fateful decision would have.

As Bean happily worked away with the crayons in his book, his parents cleaned up the baby and tidied up the breakfast table, never suspecting that their domestic normality would soon be shattered by tragedy. Suddenly, an ear-splitting shriek, the likes of which had never been heard, pierced the morning calm. Bean’s parents rushed to his side.

“Look!” Bean sobbed, cradling one index finger in the palm of the opposite hand.

“I don’t see – show me again?” asked his mother.

“There be red. There be RED!”

“Oh, I see. Looks like you’ve given yourself a paper cut, and it’s starting to bleed a little,” explained his father, still clearly unaware of the gravity of the situation.

“I leeding?! I leeding!!”

“Paper cuts do sting, don’t they? Poor Bean, let’s clean it up.”

Perhaps Bean’s parents were not to blame for their apparent lack of appropriate concern. Perhaps they were not aware of the sheer agony he bravely faced. Perhaps they were confused by the fact that Bean was a boy who could fall off the climber at the park without a sound; trip at high speed onto the pavement and skin his knee without a complaint; crash his bike into a tree with only a giggle. But these mild injuries paled in comparison to this new horror.

The parents tried in vain to calm their wildly thrashing Bean, but their efforts were in vain. His anguish was too great. Finally, though the “leeding” had stopped and the trauma was mostly psychological now, the father presented a choice of Band-Aids.

“Car?”

“No, airplane. No, car. No… airplane. Yes, airplane can do the job!” Bean was full of courageous optimism.

Airplane bandage firmly in place, Bean wiped his tears with the shaking hand of a hero who has seen too much, and trudged off down the stairs to play. In time, it appeared that his wound had been forgotten.

And then came lunch.

Convinced that he could not eat lunch while wearing a Band-Aid, Bean persuaded his parents to remove it from his finger.

“Okay, but that’s it – once the Band-Aid is off you don’t need a new one again. We can’t keep taking them off and getting new ones all day,” admonished the father.

The finger was inspected and all parties agreed that it looked much better. Maybe no one was thinking straight; maybe they were all weakened from the morning’s ordeal. We shall never know for certain. But what happened next was enough to test the mettle of even the most battle-hardened warrior.

Bean ate an orange.

No one witnessed the acidic juice of the orange slowly creeping down Bean’s finger. No one noticed as it edged closer and closer to the hard-to-see-but-most-definitely-still-there wound. And then it made contact. Bean’s eyes widened; his mouth opened. As if in slow motion, he dropped the orange and raised his hand.

“Noooo! Owwwww! Owowowowowwww!”

His parents looked at the orange and looked at each other, realizing their gargantuan mistake. Why had they given him an orange, of all fruits? Why had they taken off the Band-Aid, that thin layer protecting the fearsome gash from the cruel elements? What could they have been thinking? They rushed Bean to the sink, over his protests, foolishly thinking that rinsing away the orange juice from the finger would help. As cold water hit aggravated wound, the suffering toddler could not contain his screams at this fresh torment.

“It hurt! It hurt! Water don’t help!”

The poor, suffering boy was too far gone. He had endured too much. Nothing could help him now. Nothing except… a new Band-Aid.

“Car?”

“No, airplane. No, car. No… airplane. Airplane can do the job.”

As Bean climbed off the bathroom counter where first-aid had been administered, he looked back at his parents, a single tear glistening on his perfect cheek.

“Thanks guys,” he said, a little gruffly. “I go play now.”

Back to work, like nothing had ever happened. His parents watched in awe, inspired by the sheer grit and tenacity of this brave tyke, who had traversed to the brink of defeat and back again to overcome in one short day that most horrendous of injuries: the paper cut.

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