Tick-ing Off the Spring Gods

The pluses of spring are many. The Yankees in the Bronx. The peepers in the brook. The entertainment value in watching your lovely spouse try to remember how to start the lawnmower for the first time in six months.
But I’m going to break it to all of you out dancing in the spring rain this week. You can’t put a positive spin on the springtime ritual known as “the tick check.”

Picture it: child spends the afternoon digging through the nasty, dirty leaves that filled up her bench/toybox turned snow collector when left open for the entire winter. Hands, hair and all parts visible to the naked eye get coated in lovely squishy mud, just about half of which is removed by the cold hose used to soak the bird poop off the outside of said bench. Called into the house because Mommy is a big ol’ meanie who wants to end the very best fun, er, I mean, for dinner, child ambles with soaking wet feet straight through freshly mowed grass (see, he got it started!) and tracks it all into the house. Dinner is eaten. Some family bonding is had by all.

And then it’s time for The Bath.

Note the capital letters mid-sentence. I have not forgotten my proper sentence construction (a nod to the English teacher who I ran into in Peck’s on Sunday afternoon – I remember everything you taught me!). No, it’s giving this particular moment its due.

Because when you are 5 years old, bathing is overrated, particularly after a good run through the hose. I got wet, they tell you, what do I need a bath for?

You could wax on poetic about the scent of children’s shampoo, the sort of thing that, if pressed, a mother will admit she’s indulged thoughts of tasting because it has that sort of dream-like “anything’s possible affect” on fully grown adults. You could preach about appropriate hygiene, warn them that no one wants to sit next to the smelly kid in school.

Instead, you pull out the big guns. I have to check you for ticks. It’s upstate New York in spring. Might as well get them ready for the long summer of combing every inch of them nightly.

The response is first one of confusion, replaced by utter horror. You mean there might be a bug on me, right NOW?
Eww, get it off, get it off, get it off!

And so there you are, a child jumping and screeching, water streaming full blast from the faucet, making it hard to scream to your spouse for help (as if he’d come running after your hyena impression on the sidelines of the lawnmower fight that morning), and the knowledge that in five second you are actually going to have to home in on your child’s butt cheeks and make sure no little critters have taken a liking to their sweet meat.

Oh, I love spring. But the ticks could take a hike.

Image via dr_relling/Flickr

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