Yesterday was quite a day for my baby Maxi Minx.
She’d been up chattering and giggling with me as she crafted with pens and scissors as usual (she likes to make collages using shapes and their negative spaces(!)) and I cooed over a newly-arrived parcel of wool. As I was stroking the fibre, she asked shyly if I wanted to see the holes in her pyjamas.
Pyjamas: what, the ones you’re wearing? The really expensive, embroidered ones from Monsoon that I bought you when you were only a year old and tucked away, because they were so beautiful? What bloody holes? Oh, those huge actual-sized leaf-shaped holes you’ve cut out of each thigh at the front…
I didn’t shout. I didn’t scream. I just explained how sad I felt because they’d cost a lot of money, she’d worn them twice and now were ruined forever; she’d never be able to wear them again and Midi and Mini would never get to wear them at all. I thanked her for saying sorry (she went quite hysterical) and fairly successfully stayed calm. Well, I could see that my crappy sewing skills weren’t going to resurrect them, so what else could I do? Besides, my little Chicken-Licken* brain was whirling over the fact that if her ‘child’ scissors could cut through a double layer of material that easily, they could have made a mess of her 5 year old baby skin just as easily. (Guess what’s been confiscated?) Also, she was utterly distraught at me banning her from any form of crafting for the rest of the day.
*Chicken-Licken: fairytale about the chicken who feels an acorn fall on his bonce and assumes the sky is falling down; goes into a total flap about something innocuous. That’s generally me, that is.
In a bid to not stay in the house all day, and seeing that the weather forecast was wrong (hooray!), I sent the kids out to race round the garden. Wee Mini happily staggered around in her lovely purple Tevas strapped over her babygrow – no point dressing her up for a stay at home day. All 3 girls played at basketball (chuck the little ball through a hula hoop held by a sister, and try hard not to chuck said ball at sister’s face…). On a whim, I put Mini in a waterproof all-in-one and put long sleeves and leggings on Maxi and Midi and headed off to the local woods at the bottom of the street.
Now, recently we’ve have little home-made cards posted through the letterbox warning us of Lyme disease in the ticks in the local area. I had Lyme disease back in 2005, caught whilst climbing at Fontainebleau outside Paris, and although I got completely well 2 months later, I really struggled to get sufficient treatment. As a result, I wrote a few articles, such as this one, and have a bit of a horror of the ugly things. My kids routinely wear long sleeves and trousers when out and about and are taught not to go wading through the bracken. Me and The Boss also routinely do tick checks of ourselves and the girls if we’ve been out in typically tick-y areas. But we don’t stress about it, don’t indoctrinate the kids and indeed this year have pulled one off the front of my armpit, one from Midi’s armpit, a few from The Boss, and found a few big buggers in the house (thanks to the cat). Oh, and one crawling over Maxi’s clothes last week in the car. She’d been moaning that she was the only one in the family who’d never been bitten.
Anyway, Maxi noticed new signs put up at the entrance to the wood to match the posted ones about Lyme disease and asked what they were. I explained a little about Lyme disease, really down-played it, and explained that I made them wear leggings and fleeces to help stop so many ticks getting to us. I mean, who wants to be an insect’s lunch? She chatted away, skipping around, plucking dandelion clocks and chasing speckled wood butterflies. Mini snoozed in the sling on my back, and Midi held my hand tightly saying how tired she was (till I suggested we hit the swings instead…).
Actually the swings were a hoot – Maxi and Midi both tried the long zip wire solo, holding the seat tight with their little hands, knees held aloft, zooming down the bark landing field, scraping it into their shoes and pants. Midi only tried it after seeing her big sister zip along so fast. I applauded each effort, and couldn’t help laughing – they looked so exhilerated! Midi seriously impressed me by only falling off once, when the seat boinked off the end of the ride, the first time only.
Well, at the end of what turned out to be a very nice day after a dodgy start, The Boss was getting the girls into their bath. And Maxi had the biggest tick I have ever seen stuck neck-deep in her precious skin, in the fleshy bit in front of her armpit (where my last one was). Yuck! I can’t convey the sense of dread and disgust I felt. I’m not sure how successfully I covered it up and explained as nonchalently as I could to Maxi that Daddy was going to hook it out with a special hook, we’d put Germolene on it, and watch for any rash coming up for a few weeks, but it was no big deal (she has a real tendency to Chicken-Licken hysteria. Like me).
I resisted the temptation to go off the deep-end and race her to A&E (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know/knew a lot about Lyme, but this is my baby girl we’re talking about, here!). So I spent the evening Googling about Lyme prophylaxis treatment in children and getting my old knowledge up to date (like, when did they rename ehrlichiosis?!). I’m now very happy (!) to just observe her for a few weeks, and if she does develop Lyme symptoms (or HGA), then I know the most credible and recent articles to quote when I request specific treatment for her.
Funnily enough, over dinner I was telling The Boss that if I had more time, I’d like to add my own sign under the Lyme warning ones adorning the woods, saying “Lyme won’t blind your children – leaving your dog’s poo on the path might. Get rid of the mess!” That path was downright disgusting. I hate lazy dog-owners more than I hate ticks!