Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Bag Balm Incident

In Clara Anne’s fairly short life, there have been a few truly memorable moments. Some of those have been memorably good, but unfortunately, the one I have to share with you today was more infamous than memorable.

It all began a while back when John was on his 10 day speaking tour in Tennessee. Someone gave him a large tin of “Bag Balm” which is a product most commonly used on cow udders. That’s right, cow udders. Since we have no personal contact with cows, at first I was not sure what to do with this gift. However, the giver assured John that it was also excellent medicine for cuts and scrapes, slight burns and the like. It has a petroleum jelly-like consistency, very thick and greasy, seemed like heavy-duty stuff. So we stuck it in with our other medicines for future use.

Then, during our first week at camp, Clara Anne got two nasty scrapes on her leg—one happened when she was doing her version of “jumping” into the pool. The sides of the pool are a bit rough, and she didn’t jump far enough, but instead sort of slid awkwardly into the water, scraping her leg as she went. It didn’t look bad at first, but the second day was quite red and getting scabby, so we used some of the miracle cure Bag Balm on it. Then Clara Anne tripped over her own feet and fell on some gravel, scraping the same leg in a different spot. Bag Balm to the rescue again.

Last Wednesday, John and I were rushing around, trying to finish the final preparations before leading another activity period relating to our life and work in Asia. It was time for the girls to have a nap, and I put Chloe down in her crib, and then put Clara Anne down in our bed. I was afraid that if they were both in the same room and not yet asleep, they might be tempted to play together (it happens sometimes) and I wouldn’t be around to deal with them. I reminded Clara Anne that she needed to stay in her bed and go right to sleep, as usual. But unthinkingly, I left the 99% full container of Bag Balm on the bedside table.
An hour later, we arrived back at the cabin and asked the counselor who had been staying there with them how it went. “Chloe has been quiet,” she said, “but Clara Anne was talking to herself for awhile. I went in once and then she seemed to go to sleep.”

We cracked the door open slowly to see if, indeed, Clara Anne was asleep. Instead, the sight that met our eyes was almost unbelievable. Clara Anne was sitting on the bed, with John’s shirt on, her hands covered in yellow goo . . . Bag Balm. Bag Balm was smeared all over her legs, there were great glops of it on the sheets, John’s shirt was nearly covered in it, and Clara Anne’s shirt (which she had taken off) was also a total mess. Clara Anne’s Blanket had escaped her ministrations, but Doll was not so fortunate: Bag Balm had been rubbed into Doll’s feet and hands, all over Doll’s face, and down the front of her dress as well.

John and I were almost speechless . . . but only for a moment. Then our first instructions were for Clara Anne to sit perfectly still as we tried vainly with paper towels to wipe up the goo. Clara Anne immediately knew that she had done wrong and even as we looked at her with astonishment, asking her what she was thinking to do such a thing, she said in a pitiful voice, “I’m sorry Mommy! I’m sorry Daddy!”

You might guess (correctly) that the rest of the day was not a very pleasant one for Clara Anne. Not only did she have an encounter with the Sad Stick, she was not allowed to go swimming, her favorite thing, which made me sad because I would have loved to take her and have a fun time. She also was not allowed any more movies the rest of the week. (She had occasionally been watching a Dora episode or a Veggie Tales sing-along while we were busy and the counselors were with her.)

Both her shirt and John’s shirt were too far gone to save, but I did try to rescue Doll. I wiped off all the gunk, sprayed her down with laundry pre-treatment spray, and then tied her inside a pillowcase to wash her. She came mostly clean; a few grease stains remain on her clothes but I did the best I could. Doll is really fraying around the edges, so I was hesitant to wash her, but I truly had no choice.

I think it’s safe to say that Clara Anne was in the most trouble of her life after this incident. But hopefully a lesson was learned—both by Clara Anne and by Mommy. We had a serious talk with Clara Anne about resisting temptation, and perhaps I learned a little something about not leaving temptation right in front of Clara Anne. I think Clara Anne also learned that though forgiven, there were still consequences for her actions, which hopefully will help deter her the next time!

So though most of the Bag Balm was wasted, I pray that it served a better purpose than even healing Clara Anne’s scrapes, that it was a lesson to her heart as well. For that, I guess I should say, “Thanks, Bag Balm!”

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