Merit Badges of Boyhood · 23 April 2009

Not too long ago, Thing 3 hurt himself at school on the playground. The staff at his school did a great job fixing his elbow up with a bandage. They kept him from going to his second recess so that he would not make it start bleeding again. And they called home to let us know what had happened. The whole incident made me think of getting injured when I was a child and got me thinking about how much things have changed.

When I was a kid, my brothers, sister, and I made sure any bleeding was from a big cut before we went to see Mom and Dad for help. We knew that unless we needed stitches, we would get Macurachrome and maybe a bandage. Macurachrome was almost worse than the owie itself. Minor cuts and bleeding were made at least ten times worse when Macurachrome was put on them. The iodine or whatever disinfecting agent in the stuff would sting for what seemed like hours. I remember blowing on the cut after getting Macurachrome put on it so at least it seemed like it hurt less. Macurachrome did the job of keeping infection away, but it sure did hurt. And as cool as bandages were even then, if we did get one, it was to keep the furniture from being stained by the reddish medicine.

Today, I have not seen Macurachrome in the stores. If it is there, I would like to get some just to let my kids know what we had to go through. I would say something like, “It was good enough for me when I was a kid. By golly, it is good enough for my kids.” And I would mean it. But some part of my brain might be thinking using Macurachrome was like revenge. Especially, since there are much less painful ways to clean and disinfect cuts and scratches today.

There were other ways to disinfect cuts and scratches back when I was a kid too. The first time I found out that Macurachrome was NOT the only solution to an owie was when we were at an aunt’s house. Somebody had fallen on gravel and scraped his knee way down to what we kids thought was bone (thankfully, it was not). Our aunt got some hydrogen peroxide and put that on the wound. It was the coolest thing ever! As soon as the hydrogen peroxide hit the wound, it started fizzing. I know that it stung a bit but the pain lasted for a shorter time than with the red stuff. Part of that was probably the cool factor of fizzing on contact and part of it was probably the ingredients. Regardless, we kids found out that there was a viable alternative to Macurachrome. Unfortunately, we never got to use it except at other people’s houses. We were strictly a Macurachrome household.

We would have hydrogen peroxide at our home today even though we have access to antibacterial crèmes and medicines. The problem is that it loses its effectiveness (or at least its fizz) after a period of time. Our boys do not scrape and cut themselves enough to really need a large bottle of hydrogen peroxide around all the time. I guess that I need to make them go outside and play rougher because boys need scabs and scars to show people. After all, they are like the merit badges of boyhood.

All in all, I am glad that our boys do not hurt themselves too much. I am happy that the staffs at their schools fix them up and call us when owies happen. Still, even though Macurachrome stung a bit, it was a great part of growing up. For like scabs and scars, the tell tale pink stains on the bandage and skin of the injured party were merit badges of boyhood.

Even though we do not have Mecurachrome at our house, at least the boys have their scabs and scars to show off to others and tell of their exploits.

© 2009 Michael T. Miyoshi

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