Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Parenting Unpleasantries

A few days ago, we got the following e-mail from the Health and Safety parent at Clay’s preschool:

Tick Season Is Here

It can be a real pain if you have dark haired children, but it's time to check your children daily for ticks if they've been outside at all. We just had our first reported case of a child who was on the playground today getting a tick on them. I don't know if it was a deer tick or not though, I forgot to ask. It doesn't really matter though, because other ticks can transmit other illnesses. But you should know that Lyme Disease has reached our area. And ticks just love 70 degree temperatures! Ticks tend to be in (tall especially) grass, the undersides of leaves of bushes or low trees. When they sense a warm body going by, they just latch on to it and go for a good spot for lunch. Unfortunately, that's often in the crotch or the head; though I've gotten them on my abdomen and arms, etc.

One way to minimize your child's risk of getting them is to dress them in long white pants and shirts and tuck their pants into their white socks and spray the clothes with DEET. Honestly, I think I'd pass out in clothes like that if it was one of those hot days in July. And I hate DEET. I'd rather just check for the ticks. They take 24 hours to infect someone, so if you get them off in say, 12 hours, you don't have to worry (about Lyme Disease anyway).

Having pulled deer ticks off myself and my kids, here's what I know about them:

They can be as small as the head of a pin. They can be black, but not necessarily.

When removing them, DON'T SQUEEZE THEIR MIDDLES!!!! This causes the bacteria to go from their stomachs into the victim. Get a pair of needle nose tweezers (or much better yet go to a pet store and get a pair of tick removers, they work really well!) and go on either side of the tick's neck pulling upward so that the skin 'tents' until the tick lets go. That way you get the head out too. Then apply rubbing alcohol or other disinfectant.

I have TWELVE hours??? Lyme Disease?? Deer Ticks? Don’t squeeze the middles??


This is the part of parenting that I’m not sure I’m up for, and it bugs me (pun intended). If I can’t handle the pressure of checking my kids for ticks, what the heck am I going to do if they bring home (I feel faint just typing this) head lice??

Clay’s a pretty squirmy kid. He goes into hysterics if we come at him with nail clippers, so his manicures are few and far between. He still has leftover cradle cap, and is pretty sensitive to having me work on his scalp. I’ve already tried to surreptitiously look for ticks, but he’s wise to my ways. It’s not going to be a fun summer if I have to hold him down every day.

As if that wasn’t enough, Clay’s been (forgive me son, but it fits the theme), pulling on his pants for a few days. We’ve been asking him the usual questions: “Do you need to go potty?” “Is a tag scratching you?” No to both queries. He has admitted that he’s feeling ‘itchy’, so we inspect the, um, area, for a rash. Of the previously worn diaper kind. Nothing.

Of course, this provided us with the perfect, but really uncomfortable, opportunity to have the ‘good touch/bad touch’ conversation with him. (“This is your private area. No one is allowed to touch your private area except Mommy or Daddy or a doctor who is with Mommy or Daddy.”) Oh, how I dreaded this! But, I knew it was time because Clay’s teacher told us at our conference that she was going to introduce the subject. And, as important as I KNOW it is to arm my child with this safety information, I really HATE admitting to him that there are bad people in this world who want to do unseemly thing to innocents. Nevertheless (and like I said), it was time. When Mike asked Clay what he’d say to a stranger who offered him candy, he good naturedly responded “Thank you very much!”

Clay said he understood. But he’s only three, so the conversation isn’t over. Not by a long shot. And then it will be time to talk to Drew. As their parents, we’re going to have to find the delicate balance between empowering them against evil, and scaring the bejeezes out of them.

And about Clay’s itchy tuckus? Mike asked his teacher if she’d noticed. She had. And she suggested we check for pinworms.

Excuse me, I have to go lie down now.

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