So yesterday at about 11:02 AM I learned my son was infested with mites. Scabies, actually. He probably got it from another child at his daycare. All it takes to spread is a touch, maybe he was playing with a friend and his hand touched their arm, or maybe he touched someone’s coat and it was infected. Or it was a bath mat, or a towel. He could have been drying his hands after washing them like a very good boy and then…
Whatever the case he got it at that moment from another kid, so why do I feel so dirty?
I know I am not to blame for this. And yet, my initial reaction, like a lot of people’s is to feel like they are somehow to blame for their child’s suffering by a mite. My immediate reaction was to wonder if we vacuum the house enough, did we dust enough? And then my mind raced to my 9-month old daughter, was she even safe with us? Was I a lousy parent?
Deep breath, no I am not to blame for this. This burden was not on my head, but the recovery was. It was fully on my wife and my shoulders and I felt it.
My wife had to finish her day at work (she is a teacher so it is hard to leave during the day), which means I had to pick up my daughter from the daycare (while my son was hiding in the office so no child could get near him), bring them both home and not panic.
I had to try to not panic for four hours and it wasn’t easy.
First, I put my son in front of the TV (I know bad parent, judge me, but this moment called for dire decisions and he is four), put my daughter in her high chair with some Gerber cheese puffs (You can judge me for that too), and then quickly ran around the house. I first collected all of the linen and quilts and covers and pillows off of the beds and threw them into a pile in the middle of the hallway.
I called it my “mite pile” and I just imagined all of the insects reuniting and partying together like you would see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, some may have been wearing Hawaiian shirts. Whatever was going on in that pile, I avoided it like the plague.
I then collected all of the clothes around the house, throwing one item after another down to the basement for a wash on hot. My son’s coat, my son’s favorite winter hat. All of them had to be washed.
The initial feeling of being dirty was taking over in a major way and I started to judge everything around me. Like the cushion on the couch he was sitting on to watch that second episode of Darkwing Duck (He is going through an 80’s Disney after school phase; strangely I am a little jealous of that). Did his hand just brush against that blanket? Into the mite pile it goes!
Then the inevitable began to happen. I started to feel itchy.
I begin to feel itchy all over. I quickly ran upstairs to check, but I don’t see any spots. So why did I feel so itchy? And why in all the spots I can’t reach?
By this point my daughter was starting to complain. Even she had a limit when it came to her baby cheesy puffs. Letting her off of the high chair and onto the ground began a new series of freaking out in my mind that I was not expecting. What if the mites, were living in the carpet. Or in one spot; just like that one spot she was just about to put her bare cute baby hand.
So I followed after her, trying almost to see in front of her (wishing I had Superman’s super sight) at what she wanted to look at next (my daughter is big into crawling and exploring). I pushed my son’s toys away which only made her want them more. A new game was created.
It was an hour now since I arrived home. Daughter, fine, not itching, the mite pile was created until I could put it outside, and my son… He was done with his show and wanted to play, my mind began to understand why some parents had no problem walking their children around in public on a leash.
No, better than that, I wanted a cage. A giant kid cage, with enough room in the bars for me to occasionally throw in a Batman toy or fruit snack.
For three stressed-out hours, my son wanted to play with me and my daughter, she wanted to play with him, but I, in my panic, wanted nothing more than for them to be separated to other sides of the room like boxers after the bell rings.
I’m sure I shouted a hundred times, “Don’t touch that!” and my favorite, “Don’t tickle your sister’s toes.” I just know in twenty years my son will need a therapist for the amount of control I was suddenly instilling on such a free spirit. And throughout all this I was still feeling itchy all over, but I had no spots, not a one after checking dozens of times. Itchy, itchy, itchy.
By the time my wife came home I was pacing the room, holding my daughter and one of my hands was shaking. My mind was racing with the words “unclean, unclean, unclean.” The second she opened the door, I passed my daughter to her, and jumped in the car to go pick up the ointment that the entire family had to put on every inch of their body that night.
Once the car pulled away from the house I felt I could breathe again.
That evening, my wife caught me saying that bugs are evil to my son when he was complaining about them (I was much calmer after my hour running errands). She was right to correct me, bugs are not evil, I don’t want to create a phobia in him… OK, so they are not all bad, fine…
But scabies are m**therf**king, mind playing jerks.