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.