of chicken pox, the internet, and other things that won’t be in heaven


I knew it would take something out of the ordinary to get me back on the blogging horse. As my free time and emotional free space has been limited in this season the pauses have gotten longer and longer . . . perhaps the time to sign off approacheth. I have a hundred and seven ideas and do not write them. I would like to write about going places and leaving places and what’s next and homeschool and vegetable recipes and books I’ve read and punting with the children and my new secret to never having to do laundry. But none of these fascinating topics have had the impact of my last 24 hours. Which will be referred to, ever after on this blog, as The Scare.

I’m not the only one who has been spotty around here. Harriet has chicken pox. Norah, being our little Boston baby, not only enjoyed three days in the hospital following her birth (as opposed to, say, three hours) but also scored the varicella (read: anti-chicken pox) vaccine as a baby. This is standard in the United States. That’s enough for me to break into the national anthem, folks. O say can you see what happens to an unvaccinated two-and-a-half year old who regularly rides public transport? Last Monday by the dawn’s early light I spotted a spot. Soon it became evident that Harriet had contracted what so proudly she hailed as “chikkin posks.” (Whose broad stripes and bright stars were so gallantly streaming.)

I have only been dreading this for just under twenty-five years. For two years I’ve been scheming to have Harriet vaccinated somehow. One thing about me: My reaction to minor physical illnesses is like most people’s would be to falling into a swimming pool full of snakes. Why, one may well wonder, am I headed for work overseas? I do not know the answer to that.

Amazingly, Harriet seems to be experiencing the world’s mildest case. She has very few spots and most of them don’t even look like chicken pox. Also a new one comes here and there, past the time they usually continue to show. Which led to The Scare. Harriet’s Mommy, as we will call her in this narrative, began to wonder yesterday afternoon if perhaps Harriet had not pox but Bed Bugs. Shaking convulsively and writhing in horror, this dedicated mother wisely scoured the internet for terrifying facts and images. She then went hunting for Evidence. The problem was, once she began to look for it, she found it. It was there. But it was all inconclusive. Black specs on the sheet that could be evidence–or dirt from when Harriet climbed on her bed with shoes on the other day. A possible discarded bug shell deep in the corner under the bed–that could also be a dried flower petal. A tiny blood smear on the sheet–that could have come from Harriet’s skinned knee. Harriet’s Mommy, warped by terror into a wreck of her former self, decided: We Had Them. Her first measured response was to place a hysterical call to her husband. When he arrived home she burst into tears, collapsed on the sofa, and wished aloud for death. She then went though the bedroom for Clues again nine times over the next two hours while dinner overcooked in the oven, only pausing to click madly around the internet (Never do this.). When the children went to bed, Daddy had to tuck them in because she couldn’t bring herself to leave them in there with the Beasts. She then lay awake in bed until 2:30, when she couldn’t stand to be in bed and removed to the sofa to watch cooking shows and thus numb herself into slumber.

And that, my friends, was The Scare. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over The Time We Almost Had Bed Bugs. Hope came, as it always does, with the dawn. When reviewed in sound mind at 5 a.m. certain features of the case failed to support the bed bug hypothesis (though it didn’t stop me from “hoovering” every square inch of the girls’ room this morning and washing every stitch of bedding). I took Harriet to the doctor today. She diagnosed chicken pox, mild and in some ways uncharacteristic, but chicken pox. I was thrilled and delighted.

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14 Responses to of chicken pox, the internet, and other things that won’t be in heaven

  1. Peggy says:

    So hysterical, you made me almost choke on triscuits!!! That would have been a very dreadful and unfortunate occurance! Thank you for the laugh and for your sharing with gift of writing!!
    Glad to hear it’s ‘only’ the chicken pox! They didn’t offer a vaccination when mine were young, but we all made it through just fine 🙂

  2. ethicks says:

    Maybe my favorite post ever. (Except for the whole Harriet- has-chicken-pox part.)

    If you stop blogging, I shall fling myself on the sofa and wish aloud for death.

  3. Caitlin says:

    This was hilarious, but let it be known that I was not laughing AT you… I was laughing at how similar my response would have been in a hypothetical Bed Bug crisis! It’s a good thing you are as quick and nimble as goats. Any future bugs (hypothetical or actual) do not stand a chance. 😉

    Next on my list of “moving back to America to-do’s”: obtaining a varicella vaccination for the Goose!

  4. Caitlin says:

    PS – I miss you like whoa.

  5. Sarah Anikpo says:

    OK, Betsy… I have bee reading your blog for a year now and don’t believe I’ve said Hi. This post couldn’t go un praised. I loooove what you did with the Star Spangled Banner. I am a former Bethlehemer and came to your apt once with a friend when you lived here. I can’t remember with whom but I know the Tabbs from our Uganda medical trip. I love reading about your girls and how you mother them. Now little Hugh as well. I also love when you share your heart for The Lord in such a real way. Thank you for blogging!

  6. Cara says:

    Oh how I wish I could just laugh at this. I go through The Scare about twice a year. I can’t handle bed bugs. Bed bugs will send me over the edge. So far, it’s never been bed bugs. But, I’m sure one day it will be. So glad it’s *only* Chicken Pox! And, glad your back, if only for a bit 🙂

  7. Juli says:

    Been there, done that… 😉

  8. I’ve been a lurker on here for a while, but this post has compelled me to comment! I’ve had The Scare a few times, and in each case, online researched my way into anxiety attacks (and burnt dinner). So glad it’s not the bed bugs and that Harriet only has a mild case of the pox. Hoping you have a better day tomorrow and that you’ll share with us your secret to never having to do laundry. 🙂 Thanks for blogging!

    • betsy says:

      Hi Rebecca! Thanks very much for commenting–and thanks for making me feel better! I’m relieved to know I’m not alone. As to the laundry, I’ll work on it . . .

  9. Pingback: i think i’ll start blogging again, i said | part of the main

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