When I Asked My Son About Depression and Anxiety

My son is going to be twelve at the end of this year. He is so bright, albeit occasionally insensitive. He carries on conversations with adults with virtually no trouble. Often times, his knowledge base can exceed that of the adult with whom he is speaking, and I am told his teachers are impressed with him. But sometimes, he can hurt feelings. He can be a right little turkey, as I say. I’m sure it’s normal, but because of this I was understandably nervous to talk to him about the mental health problems I face.

What I take for granted, I suppose, is that he overhears my conversations on the phone and sometimes reads things over my shoulder as I write them. I can forget that I’ve spoken aloud about something to someone else while he’s been near, which is easy to do because he rarely looks like he’s paying attention to anything. He’s usually absorbed in his own activities, whatever they are, apparently lost in his own little world.

As far as I can recall, I haven’t directly spoken to him about depression or anxiety. I could be wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover what he had to say on the subject when we had a little chat the other night.

What is depression?

-Thinking that nothing can get better and thinking that there’s no hope even if there is, a bit.

What do you think causes it?

-Other people.

What is anxiety?

-Fear. Knowing what’ll happen next but hoping it doesn’t happen.

What do you think about people with anxiety and depression?

-That they’re doing well because they’re trying hard and I think they’re getting through- just about.

Do you know that I have anxiety and depression?

-Yeah.

What do you think about that?

-I think you’re doing well, you’re working hard.

What do you think it would look like if I didn’t have these things?

-Without it you’d be happier, you might have a job.

What do you think people should know about anxiety and depression?

-That they should try to understand and give some respect because for ones that have it, their lives are harder.

Then, he said the most clever thing of the whole conversation. He gave a great analogy to help describe having depression and anxiety.

If you could describe depression and anxiety as a thing that might represent it, what would you say that is?

-It’s like a jar inside you, full of the anxiety and depression, and the jar is really hard to open. If you could just get the lid off the jar the anxiety and depression would get out and you could be happy, but the lid is stuck and you try really hard to get it off, but can’t do it alone.

I must add I have had a difficult week with my son. He is about to transition into secondary/high school, and routines at school are currently inconsistent as they practice for the school play and get things organised to end the year. It’s been a bit stressful for him, maybe, and in turn has been extra stressful for me. He hasn’t been listening, caring, or any of the desirable things I wish to see from him. But just when I was beginning to doubt the good in him, he comes out with this.

He does listen. He does care. And I should never discount that perhaps his knowledge of what I’m going through affects him, too. But in all, I’m so proud of him that his true understanding and compassion, one could say, is greater than that in many of the attitudes I’ve seen in a large number of adults. So instead of feeling guilty that I might be adversely affecting him, I think it’s safe to say his experience of seeing these illnesses in me has expanded his understanding and compassion for others.

I don’t think you’ll find bigotry toward anxiety or depression coming from my son anytime soon.

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I love my little turkey.

Not a Post About Crochet (Only)

The past few days I have been working on something special.

I was going to log on and write a post about it the other day, but what I ended up with was The Other Things I Am. Needless to say I was exasperated that day… motherhood is really trying sometimes.

One of the things I had meant to say with that post was that, in addition to writing and a bunch of other things, I crochet as well. Like writing, I haven’t crocheted in about a decade, until recently. Working with yarn has a tendency to reduce stress, so I took up knitting and restarted my crochet habit around February time.

I first made one of these special things I mentioned a couple of months back, using a free pattern from one of my favourite magazines. I altered the pattern slightly and used different yarn and a differently sized hook. What it made was a larger, monotone version of the stuffed toy, for which I designed some clothes. Namely, a ballerina costume and little ballet slippers. A picture of it even made its way into my favourite magazine and won me a ball of yarn. Woo!

While I made the toy, I had a friend in mind.

This friend of mine has been trying for four years to adopt. She doesn’t even want to adopt a baby, which are a more popular choice for hopeful parents, but a girl who is older and has been orphaned for some time, of which there are plenty. For a while she was trying to adopt from Russia because, at the time, it was her most promising option. Then her country legalized same-sex marriage. And that was it; all her money wasted (because adoption is not cheap), emotional rollercoaster ride back to square one. (Russia says “NYET” to any country which allows same-sex marriage, regardless of the sexuality of the hopeful parents.) She was devastated.

Now she is trying from another country, as there are no matches for her in her own country, and so far that’s looking promising. I have the highest hopes for her that she will finally have the joy of being a mother (even though it is such a challenge sometimes) and while she was visiting most recently, I gave her the toy I had made.

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The bear has now gone overseas to go live with my friend, and hopefully soon, her new daughter.

Another friend of mine saw the bear before it was given away. The other day she called me and asked if I’d make one for a local charity event whereby the bear will be in a big jar and donations will be raised as people guess the name of the bear to try to win it. Saves counting jelly beans! So I got right on it, and have finally finished the last little ballet slipper today.

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As I was making it, I thought of the first friend again. As I’m sure most of you have heard, the US recently legalised same-sex marriages. While I am pleased for the people who have been waiting a long time for this, and would like to join completely in their joy, I can’t help but think about how many parents-in-waiting are out there, and how many Russian orphans are out there, who have not been able to be matched because of Russia’s rules on adopting to places where same-sex marriage is simply legal.

I should clarify, the ban for adoption to US parents came into effect late 2014, not the other day. I am not sure of the exact reasons for the ban, maybe just a bit of animosity between the two countries who aren’t exactly friends, but as several states had already legalised these types of marriages, it would not be far-fetched to say that Russia didn’t want its children around same-sex marriages. This feels wrong.

It would be easy to say “Well that’s Russia’s problem,” and not be entirely wrong to say that. But there are children not at fault for simply being Russian, and parents meeting every other criteria for adopting from Russia who are not at fault for simply being from a country which has legalised same-sex marriage. The US is a leader in most political trends, and I would bet many countries will now follow in its steps.

I wonder what Russia’s problem is with this subject. But Russia and the adoption fiasco are just one example of divided opinions about who should be allowed to marry. One doesn’t even need to leave the house to see how divided people are about this. And maybe you think I’m going to give a strong opinion one way or the other…

But I don’t know what the correct answer is on this subject. I can see where people are coming from when they say it’s destroying the family unit, not that I agree with their opinion. And I can see where people are coming from who say “love is love,” not that I agree that same-sex marriages should be legalised. I see how people say that heterosexual marriages are not so great themselves, how divorce should not be legal, and I see there are plenty of same-sex couples who have been together longer than hetero couples.

I’m not a psychologist and I don’t know what exactly children need and how different genders of parents affect their development from a factual scientific perspective. I do know that growing up without a dad sucked. My mom wasn’t gay, but I can’t say whether another woman around would have been harmful, in fact it would probably have been beneficial. I know a lot of gay guys who are excellent around kids. I know a lot of terrible heterosexual males who have failed miserably at the “dad thing.” I know both gay and straight moms who have failed and succeeded in raising good kids. I have had quite a few homosexual friends throughout the years who have been excellent friends, many times even better than the heterosexual ones.

I am also well-versed in the Bible but will probably never attend church again. I still haven’t covered my thoughts on religion and won’t get too far into that today, but I will say this:

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

There are a lot of innocent people who are adversely affected by the legalisation of something which makes so many others so happy, and what I’ve learned throughout my life is not to get caught up in any sensationalism about anything political. Politicians can be tricky, clever bastards.

I do not wish for my homosexual friends to be denied the right to marry. But I feel that marriage these days has too many legal implications to be just about the marital union of a couple. There are other things to consider: Who gets to be the recipient of the life insurance pay-out once one of them has passed? Without the legal recognition of the relationship, insurance companies can keep all those thousands they’ve collected in life insurance premiums. That seems unfair. There are exponentially more roots to this tree that many people, including myself, do not see.

What I do think is that for people preaching religious principles, I sure hope they’re respectful with their words at the very least. I think the best way to put people off the message you are trying to convey is to be rude about it. For people who are jumping for joy, I sure hope this is as good as you think it is. And just like all the people who have commented on my posts wherever they’ve been seen, saying that I “just need God,” not knowing one way or another what my relationship with a deity has been throughout my life, I hope people know that being gay is not something church can cure, just like depression and anxiety and PTSD are not cured by a preacher.

How ironic is it that one of the biggest reasons I have PTSD and that a lot of undesirable things have happened in my life is because of a preacher in a church who was married and had a heterosexual family?

What I’m trying to say is, there is no black and white answer to this, or to many other things. But there are innocent children affected by adults everywhere because of their opinions and actions. And I am almost positive that having two parents, or even one parent, regardless of whether they’re heterosexual or not, is better than being stuck in an orphanage somewhere.

This adorable, innocent bear, reminds me of all the kids waiting to have parents. And it reminds me of all the people repeating opinions, regardless of whether they are the genuine beliefs of that person or concocted by the media and politicians, fighting against one another over this. What I see is people fighting one another, innocent children denied parents, and amazing potential mothers and fathers of all sexualities desperate for a chance to show children a loving family experience, denied this opportunity.

I’m really not sure which is worse, or what the solution may be, but just like I hope my friend gets to be a mother soon, I hope everything works out for all the right people and for all the right reasons.

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Dear Lucy 2

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Dear Lucy,

As I write this to you I am several thousands of miles away. It rains a lot, but not the warm kind of rain I remember in the summers when I grew up.

When it would stay light outside until late, like it’s doing now, we would sometimes have thunderstorms. The clouds, full of rain, would be purple against the bright pink sky. I’d stand in the puddle in the gutter with just my bare feet and let the rain water rush past my toes. I’d be soaking wet, and I didn’t even care.

It’s a wonder I didn’t get struck by lightning all those times I stood out in those storms, but maybe it’s because the trees in front of my house were so much taller than me. Watching the lightning in the storm-clouds was one of my favourite things to do. I wish there were storms like that here.

We had a lilac bush next to our house when I was little. The flowers were light purple. I looked forward to the spring and summer seasons when they would bloom. Their smell remains my favourite smell to this day. I get really excited when I see lilacs.

I lived next to a baseball stadium. In the summer we would always hear the announcers talking about the game over the loudspeakers. I didn’t much like baseball, but I’d be listening as I’d play outside with my jump-rope and hula hoop. I had roller skates, too. My sister and I had matching pairs. We were always playing outside. She even taught me to ride a bike.

Sisters can be pretty cool; I’m glad you have some. Did you know, my sister gave me the idea for your name? When she said the name I almost cried. It was beautiful and it was meant for you, I just knew it.

Love Always,

Birth Mom


Read Dear Lucy 3

What is Dear Lucy about?

Dear Lucy 1

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  Dear Lucy,

         I have nothing but feelings of pride that you have become a girl so compassionate, and wonderful, and kind.

Part of me will always wish that I were there to shape you and make you into such a girl, or at least guide you and give you outlets and opportunities to that effect, but you have your real mother to thank for that.

You may not look much like her, but I can tell you with confidence that you will grow up to be just like her in many ways, for she has given you the pieces which I could not.

I want you to know I always wanted a daughter. I really did. And there was not a single quality about you which I did not love with all my being.

In spite of all the sickness, and migraines, and shortness of breath that came along with carrying you inside me for nine months, I enjoyed knowing you were in there, waiting to grace the world with your presence.

You might be wondering why, with what I have just told you, I didn’t keep you with me forever. And you are justified in wondering. Please always remember that sometimes things happen for reasons that we can’t know until the latter half of that purpose is revealed.

Soon I will tell you the story of how you came to be where you are today, but for now just look at your mother and father and understand: You would never have known the love of these two wonderful people, had circumstances not been what they were.

You are loved. And wanted.

And that, in itself, is a treasure.

Love Always,

Birth Mom


Read Dear Lucy 2

What is Dear Lucy about?

Finally He Claimed Me

I always wondered where most of my looks came from, because I don’t look that much like my mom.

I’d heard all kinds of stories about him, and used to imagine what it would be like if he were around. His head was so big they had to special order his hat at the mine, my mother would tell me, they used to call him ‘buffalo head’ and he was a black belt in karate.

He never remembered my birthday, except once when I turned eight and got a card in the mail from him. Well, he almost remembered. The date he’d written in the card was three days late. His memory must’ve been really bad, because he always forgot to pay the child support, too. Ten long years and not a penny.

The last time I’d seen him I was two years old and eating peach flavoured yogurt. He and my mother were embroiled in a brawl that landed her with two black eyes and a broken ankle. She said she was leaving. He made my sister and I sit on his knee and choose with which parent we wanted to live. I was never able to stomach peach yogurt again.

As the years passed I learned why I was so afraid of Chucky from Child’s Play; he thought it was funny to put my head in the dark attic and tell me “Chucky’s gonna getcha!” I learned my feet looked just like his. I learned he used to work in the mines as an engineer and hated when my mom put a jumpy snake in his lunchbox. He was rumoured to be the best piano player in cowboy boots anybody had ever seen. I learned he always broke his word, that we shouldn’t get our hopes up for those “daddy promises.”

My mom told me stories of the things he used to do to her and how convinced she was that he had once plotted her murder. He was thwarted by a passing hiker. I believed her at first but then wondered if she was just angry because he wasn’t the husband he should’ve been. You were supposed to be a twin, she’d say. None of his brothers pay child support. They all do this. Maybe he wasn’t paying, to punish my sister and I for choosing to live with Mom. He had two new children now, maybe they were more important. What did he need us for, anyway?

At the age of fifteen I finally got to meet this man, the myth, the legend. He really did have a buffalo head. He really did wear cowboy boots. He looked so much like me. I wondered how many of the other things were true.

One of the first things he said to me after thirteen years of being a stranger, was “I should’ve killed your mom when I had the chance.” I was stunned. We ate pancakes at IHOP and went to the mall. He spent money on me. He saw I had a three-month-old baby, yet he pinched my sides and said, “You need to lose that weight.”

After enduring rants about how my mom just wanted to mooch off him and the government, and diatribes of how amazing he was and how much better my life would’ve been if only I’d got to live with him all these years instead, still I agreed to keep in contact with him. He was a smart man, and some of the things he said could be pretty convincing. But so many other things were so critical.

He said he’d pay for a landline phone so he could have a number to reach me. He said he’d call, but after the first week he never did. He emailed me for a while but his emails were like conversing with Jekyll and Hyde. I never knew what to expect.

Finally I said I couldn’t take it anymore, that there were two sides to every story and then the truth. I was sick of being in the middle of the tug-of-war between his accusations and my mother’s defence, and my mother’s accusations and his angry backlash.

He called me a “whore” and a “slut” for having a child so young. I was “going to be a welfare slob just like [my] mom” and he wanted nothing to do with me.

A year passed, I moved to Utah to live with my sister. He promised to help support me and my son, saying how glad he was I was finally getting away from my mom. “I guess you’re kind of my responsibility too,” he’d said. But it was another daddy promise. And after an argument where I’d defended my sister’s boyfriend (who is a good man) he told my sister he wanted her, “but not bozo and not bitch.”

I tried to enrol myself in high school there to finish my junior year. Without a custodial parent to sign papers, I’d be charged $5,000 to be able to finish. “You’re telling me, a teenage mother who is trying to defy the odds against her, that I need to be wealthy just to get a high school diploma? Where do you think I’m going to get five thousand dollars?” The one thing I wanted, to beat the statistics, shot down in one phone call.

One week into the new school year, I tried a new approach. The don’t-ask-don’t-tell approach. I called a different high school. They told me yes, come down today, it’s already started… in fact, you’re a week late. Bring a parent to sign the forms. I told my dad, “You’ve done nothing for me my entire life. If you do nothing else, please just come and pretend you have custody of me and just sign these papers so I can finish school. Please.” He said I didn’t need a diploma, I could just do what he did and get a GED and a scholarship for the mining program at the U of U. I insisted I just wanted to finish high school. He told me I was stupid, but he went with me and signed the papers anyway.

A few weeks into it they called me to the office. They’d found out I was living with my sister and my baby. They knew I didn’t really have a parent there with me. I thought I would be in trouble, but they had nothing but respect for me and wanted to offer some support. This came in the form of a mentor and a few phone calls to my old school. My old school sent revised transcripts to show what grades I would have had when I left three-quarters of the way through my junior year, and together the new counsellor and I calculated how many more credits I needed to graduate. If I failed even one, I’d miss out on that diploma.

In the time I’d been pregnant my freshman year, given birth in my sophomore year, and been a mother my junior year, I’d worked so hard to get the best grades I could. During the second year I taught myself my lessons at home. I had to omit some extra “elective” classes which took out that room for error. Now even with college-level Pre-calculus and Physics on the roster, I had to keep that ball rolling. It wasn’t about just finishing for me, it was about finishing with flying colours. I had something to prove.

The end of the year came. I’d scored 26 out of 36 on the national Aptitude Competency Test. I’d achieved a 3.8 out of 4.0 Grade Point Average. I’d written two essays and won the Accepting the Challenge of Excellence award on the national level from the National Exchange Club. With that scholarship and some founder’s scholarships I earned by my ACT and GPA scores, I was accepted to Westminster College, my college of choice, due to start that fall.

But now it was graduation day. And all I wanted was that picture everyone gets to have at the end of the ceremony, smiling with their family and their diploma in hand, adorned in their cap and gown. My reward to myself for making it to the finish line despite every challenge set before me, a sunny picture of me and my son together with the piece of paper that said YOUR STATISTICS CAN SHOVE IT in my grasp.

My son to came to the ceremony with me; I had asked my friend if she would watch him. I begged my dad to come. He insisted he had more important things to do. I pleaded, I told him it was important to me. He reluctantly agreed. Thinking it would be better than to force my young friend to keep this toddler quiet during the ceremony, I asked my dad to sit with him instead. He did, or at least he said he did.

The ceremony ended and there were all the graduates with their families taking places on the lawn and getting out their cameras. I trekked up one hill and down the next, around the front and then around the back. I couldn’t see my son or my dad anywhere. I called to find out where he was so we could get that picture; He said he’d seen me cross the stage and then he left. I was devastated. I’d worked so hard for several years with this exact moment, this treasure, in mind. I trusted him, and he let me down. I should’ve known better. Just another daddy promise.

A short time after, his mother came to town for a visit. I was invited to dinner to meet this woman for the first time. She was cold and I didn’t like her. He was extra jolly, but maybe that was just another twenty-one ounce glass of straight whiskey taking hold. He bragged about his cooking skills, bragged about his more important kids and their piano lessons, and then put his arm around me.

“Guess what my daughter did? My daughter got into Westminster just like you, Ma. She gets those brains from her dad.”

Finally he claimed me, and it was nothing like I’d ever hoped or imagined. I hated it. I hated him. I hated all the things he’d ever promised and failed to produce, his daddy promises, and all the words he’d ever said, and his arm around me.

This was my accomplishment, and he was using it to pat himself on the back.

I was angry at him for a long time. But instead of being angry, I choose to be thankful; It helped make me who I am and realise how much I don’t need his acceptance…

I claim me. And because of this man, I claim the son of this slut that much more. I am there for every performance. I am there for every graduation. And I’ll take photos of every. damn. one.

At one point I thought his greatest gift to me was signing the papers to get me back into school, but now I think his greatest gift was showing me how not to be a parent person. I have wisdom and resolve and determination far beyond my years. And I don’t have to wonder where I got that, because for this, there is no question.

235

All in Time

There was a time
when I thought love happened
like in the movies.
I don’t believe in love like that
anymore.

There was a time
when all the little girls at school
got boyfriends
who brought them flowers
on Valentine’s Day
But I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day
anymore.

There was a time
I experienced something
but it wasn’t love.
Not even close.

There was a time
a long time
I looked for love
in every smile
in every glance
I don’t look for love
anymore.

If there was a time
when I knew love
and love knew me…
I didn’t remember that time
anymore.

But there was a time
a kind time
where love found me
and followed me
into the depths
of great loneliness
and the love was great
but the world was not
and the love was taken
and did not breathe
anymore.

Then there was a time
a short time
where love found me
and followed me
into the depths
of great despair
and the love was great
but I was not
and I knew this love
needed more.

There was a time
a long time
I yearned for love
because it was not known
because I’d kept it
from myself
I refuse to do that
anymore.

Maybe one time
I’ll come to find
the kind of love
they show in the movies
they write in the songs
the encompassing
consuming
propelling
sweeping
legendary
love.
But I won’t wait for a thing like that
anymore.

For there were times
when love was born
with tiny hands
and tiny feet
when I least expected it
and when I most expected it
and I was not lonely
anymore.

But after some time
a long time
I felt the void
of my old nemesis
the stranger
the foreigner
for the void was great
and the bridge was not.
I knew my soul
needed more.

At this time
love is still a stranger
ever-elusive
not-to-be-trusted
and there are times
when I don’t want it
anymore.

So until the time
when both my little boys at home
become boyfriends
who bring girls flowers
on Valentine’s Day
I will show them love
every day
and forever,
and more.

-Kirsten Young

Karmic Heebie-Jeebies

In 2011 I attempted to start a blog. I got three posts into the blog before a random comment on social media, which was probably not even intended for me (but my anxiety wouldn’t let it go), had me feeling like somebody out there thought I was copying them (I wasn’t). Years later I realise that even if they thought that, to post a funny story about being a mother is not copying anyway, it’s just common.

So now it’s 2015 and while a handful of things have changed, the story is still funny. And after the past few posts, I’d like something to make you laugh. Enjoy.

Yesterday was an eventful day for us. The first part of the morning was spent getting ourselves ready and heading to London on a coach to meet up with one of my best friends who deliberately caused herself a layover just to see us. The afternoon was filled with sight-seeing, posing for pictures, and lots of hugs. But before sunset, those feel-good vibes had been replaced by panic, tension and horror.

Once upon a time, a letter came home from My eldest son’s school. (We’ll call him Alfie.) ‘Please be advised that head lice is going around the school… Check your child’s hair regularly.’

“Head lice? Gee, thanks. Let’s just hope Alfie doesn’t get it. Alfie, don’t go near other children’s heads at school. Don’t share your hat or anyone else’s hat. Promise me!”

“I promise.”

Soon after the letter, I had myself thoroughly convinced that it would just not happen to us. I hated having lice when I was six years old, and I was determined not to let them in this house. Not on my watch you don’t!

For about two weeks we thought we were pretty lucky. There was no sign of the little critters, life went on steadily and everyone got to where they needed to be on time. Everyone including Alfie, who needed to be at kickboxing at six o’clock sharp on Thursday night.

While the name ‘kickboxing’ may not immediately imply head-to-head contact, there are some instances in which the children’s heads might meet as they practice certain moves. And when Alfie came home and took a shower after class, he wouldn’t stop scratching his head.

At first we thought nothing of it. “No big deal, surely it’s just a dry scalp from too much shampooing. He’s had quite a few showers this week anyhow. The water is hard in this region, too. We’ll use different conditioner next time.  No time to fuss over it now, we need to be out of the house tomorrow by eight!”

When we woke up yesterday morning we were so busy getting ready that we didn’t pay attention to whether or not Alfie was scratching his head. It was the last thing on our minds at that point. It did get a bit annoying when Alfie would take off his hat and stop walking to do it, so we hustled him along and told him to keep the hat on his head and stop messing with it.

“Can I have a piggy-back ride, mom?”

“No, Alfie, we don’t have time for that right now. We have to get to the bus station on time. Maybe later.”

We made it to the station as planned, and as Alfie sat next to me on our bus journey he rested his head on my shoulder from time to time. Once in London, we took lots of pictures where we were smiling and posing with our heads close together. Our friend hugged each one of us extra tight as we said our good-byes and when we got on our return coach, just when Alfie had rested his head on the back of the seat, I made him trade me places to make it easier to manage the baby.

As a matter of fact, I am not a fan of buses at all. I am always concerned that the person who sat in my seat before me may have had head lice, especially when I see a greasy hair-print on the window next to me. Yesterday was no exception, I just didn’t ever imagine that the lice-carrying greasy person who passed out on the bus would actually be a very clean, seven-year-old little boy whom I love so much.

After the bus had pulled into the station and we were on our way home, Alfie asked me again for a piggy-back ride. I didn’t refuse him this time because I knew he had been so patient all day and really deserved to get off his feet for at least part of the way home. Once on my back I told him to climb onto my shoulders instead, where I carried him for about a third of a mile before I had to put him down. He even got to run (his favorite thing to do) for the home stretch; what a perfect day it had been so far.

Once inside our home sweet home, we were ready to relax for the remainder of our lovely day. Hubby was brewing tea, I was donning my sheepskin booties, the baby was playing with the toys he hadn’t seen all day, and Alfie was…

…scratching his head.

“My head really itches, mom, I think I have head lice.”

“You think you have what? Let me see your head!”

I immediately got out the flashlight and looked through his hair, only to be horrified by the sight of things on the back of his head… crawling around… and… moving… “There’s… there’s one there! There! Get it! Get it!

As I squirmed like a little girl and tried not to empty the contents of my stomach on the floor, flashbacks began to haunt me of all the different times during that day in which my head came close to Alfie’s. I was getting increasingly panicked. What if the baby has them, too? What if he gave them to our friend? What if British lice aren’t supposed to go to America? I HAVE LOTS OF HAIR!

Meanwhile, Hubby was taking a much calmer approach to the whole thing.

“It was going to happen. We knew it would.”

I didn’t! I really thought we wouldn’t get them!”

“Well that was silly. We’ll get some stuff for it in the morning.”

I wasn’t sure I could wait until the morning. However, given the hour and the time required for treatment, it was going to have to wait. It was pure coincidence that we had rice with our dinner, right after I had been getting queasy over lice and nits for some time, but I managed to keep it all down despite fears that it was moving. Shortly after, I thought I started noticing some itching.

I couldn’t tell if I was paranoid or if I really was infested, but I seemed to be freaking out just in case. All night long I had a bad case of the heebie-jeebies, complete with nightmares at bedtime. Not exactly the type of ending I would have chosen for that day.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m afraid of spiders and ticks, especially after Hubby found a tick crawling on me last year, or that I’ve seen one too many episodes of Monsters Inside Me. I’m afraid of quite a few micro-menaces, actually, such as wasps, earwigs, red ants, bedbugs, mosquitoes and even dust mites. There is just something about tiny things making me unhealthy without my permission that really “bugs” me. Plus, I can still feel the nit comb yanking through my super-long hair back in the first grade, which only added pain to the trauma, for a mental scar that is sure to last a lifetime.

While researching more information on the little buggers, it became clear that it is important to stay calm in these situations. Stay calm? Excuse me? This is so that you don’t over-treat the children, and probably also so you don’t traumatise them. So I tried to remember to keep cool.

“Alfie, next time you decide to bring some new pets into this house, you make sure to ask permission first, okay?”

“What? I didn’t bring any…. oh. Well I didn’t ask them, they’re invisible so they just… got on me.”

When Hubby came back from the store this morning with the treatment gel, I was quite excited to use it. It is a product called Hedrin, which is supposed to suffocate the lice and penetrate the eggs to kill them all. When finished simply shampoo, condition and comb out, and voila! No pesticides or harsh chemicals, can be used on the baby if necessary. I saturated Alfie’s hair with it as directed and after fifteen long minutes of “How long is it now, Mommy?” and “Has it been fifteen minutes yet?” it was time to douse him with shampoo.

When I put the conditioner on him and started combing his hair, dozens of little brown flecks kept showing up on it, turning my stomach with each stroke. Only one was as large as a sesame seed so it’s difficult to tell how long he’s had them, but if they have to reproduce sexually and there were lots of small ones and quite a few eggs, hatching every seven to ten days,  and they only lay up to ten a day… how many did he have and how long had they been there? Should we only be concerned with head-to-head interaction from the past two days or the past two weeks? Some friends of ours watched the boys for us one night and their little girl was playing closely with the boys. So I sent her a warning, too.

“No worries, thanks for letting me know. Got all the gear to treat it already.”

Wow! That wasn’t the reaction I was expecting!

“…the first time I got them from my niece and nephew I bleached my hair to get rid of them! This won’t be the last time Alfie brings them home, don’t worry.”

At this point I am feeling much better about the way I reacted. I felt awful at first, but after talking to our friend I realized that if we just keep some treatment stuff on hand, we’ll be fine. My reaction was totally normal, and all was forgiven anyhow. No bleach involved.

After Alfie’s hair was done I treated my own, and now that we have both been treated I can let him near me once again. Alfie’s hair only required about a fifth of the bottle of Hedrin while mine required three fifths. That leaves just the right amount to treat Hubby’s hair and possibly the baby’s so we should all be good. But what the Hedrin won’t remove is the memories of looking through the back of my son’s scalp to see things crawling around on him, sucking his blood. It may be weeks before the nightmares and the phantom itches stop.

I can’t help but be suspicious that this may be karma getting back at me for scaring the crap out of Alfie with his very own plastic spider a few weeks ago. I put my arm around him and pretended I just wanted to hold him close when I put the thing on his sleeve and shouted, “Alfie! There’s a spider on you!” The way he squirmed… seems awfully familiar.