Monday, May 12, 2008


We had an interesting adventure today. Interesting in the sense of "something I don't want to do ever again."

Last night, when I was tucking Ryan into bed, I noticed a black spot on the inside of his ear, up inside where the top of the outer ear folds over, you know? I assumed it was paint left over from The Messy Party (pictures soon, I promise!). Since it was so late and he really needed to get to sleep, I decided I'd wash his ear in the morning.

So, this morning, he set up an "office" next to my desk in the kitchen, looking sharp, ready to help me do my work. We set about making a grocery list (I spelled, he wrote). Then I caught a glimpse of that spot on his ear again. I reached out to brush it away--and then it moved.

OMG. It was a tick. A tick tick tick tick tick. EEEEWWWWWW.

I remained totally composed. "Oh, that's a tick!" I said.

Well, see, here's the thing. Ryan had no idea that there were such creatures in the world, just a-waiting to drink his own personal delicious blood. And stick themselves on to his skin so tightly that even Mommy can't just take it right off.

I have to admit . . . if that had happened to me when I was 6, I might have wigged out a little, too. I had to answer about a zillion questions about ticks right at that very moment and he made me look up a picture of one on the internet. EEEWWWWW! He was half-interested, half-crying. Morgan was more than a little concerned.

I didn't feel comfortable trying to remove it myself, since it really was lodged in an awkward area. Also, I thought a doc might be able to help us identify it. TOTALLY worth the co-pay. Truly.

My neighbor came and got Miss M and I took a super-freaked-out little boy to Urgent Care. He cried and cried and begged me to call Brendan to see if he would meet us. Which Brendan did, because he's a super-good daddy, even though I know he had tons of work to do.

By the way, the instant Brendan walked in the door at Urgent Care, Ryan was Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky-Super-Talky-Nontraumatized Guy. Hmph. I did all the hard stuff, like 'splainin' about ticks and dragging him to the doc--and Brendan waltzes in like a Big Damn Hero and the child is all smiles. Double Hmph.

Anyway, the tickectomy went well, minimal pain and discomfort. It's a dog tick--which I correctly identified thanks to the internets.

But! But but but but but! The doctor did not kill the tick, but rather stuck it in a specimen jar for us to keep.

Say it with me: EEEEWWWWWW! (I wasn't there for the procedure, having left to pick up Morgan. I'd like to think that I would have put a stop to that nonsense.)

Ryan wants to keep it as a pet. He's named it Ryan the Tick.

I suspect that we'll have to let Ryan the Tick out into the wild tomorrow because . . . just . . . ew.


Allergy Mom said...

I'm not sure if you will find this suggestion offensive/deceptive, but if you would like to shorten the tick's lifespan while your child is sleeping, soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover, drop it in the jar, and use the fumes to gas the little sucker. No squish, no incriminating evidence once the cotton ball is removed. I'm just sayin'. Libby

Rational Jenn said...

LOL! I'm going to use our usual "bugs live outside" line. If that doesn't work, well . . . there are ways to hasten its death.

Actually, I learned from my husband that Ryan's original plan was to feed it to his venus fly trap, a sort of poetic justice, yes? But the plant doesn't have any traps large enough for it (we've been nursing it back to health). Normally, he doesn't care about bugs enough to keep them alive, but I think he might feel a special bond, an attachment if you will, with this tick.

Yuck. I'm still so grossed out!

Burgess Laughlin said...

I'll bet your doctor didn't use the same technique for tick removal that my family doctor did 55 years ago. (I am 63.)

He first took a couple of quick drags on his cigarette. (Yes, he smoked in his office.) Then he knocked off the ash and put the ember against the tick's backside (the engorged sack). The tick backed out in a hurry and then the doctor squashed it on a piece of paper. Pop and splash!

What fun! But taking it home in a jar would have been better. I am (55 years too late) jealous of Ryan.

Kim said...

Being a kinda woodsy little gal myself, I did learn from my dad that those critters are dang hard to kill. My littlest girl is particularly tasty to ticks and bees. She now pulls the ticks off herself (which is good since she tends to do long explores by herself in the woods) and learned to flush the critters. The other technique is death-by-match which I'm less likely to support for a 6 year-old.

We're tough about ticks here, but those other arachnids, spiders, are a screamfest and short for this world. There's enough of them outside!

Monica said...

Ummmm. When you said the doctor put it in a specimen jar I automatically assumed that there was *alcohol* in the specimen jar as well. Of course, they are so chitinous that it would have been swimming around for minutes while it died, and probably would have made Ryan sad.

But I can't believe the doc didn't keep and kill it!? GROSS!!

I've had plenty of experiences with all sorts of creepy crawlies over the years. In fact, I've collected insects by blacklight in the tropics and been literally covered head to toe in enormous beetles. No problem there. But ticks? They are just so gross.

The one and only time I got a deer tick on me, I was scratching the rest of the day after removing it, totally paranoid there might be one somewhere else on my body. I don't think ticks make you itch: it was totally psychological.

You have my sympathies for having to have that gross creature in your house. YUCK.

Anonymous said...

I read the word black spot and knew it was a tick! Eeewwwww!!! My ears are itching now.

Rational Jenn said...

Burgess--thanks for your comment! Those were the days--when the doc would use his own cigarette to burn the tick off. My dad recalled a similar incident. I've never had a tick attach itself to my personal body, so I don't know how they would have removed it back in the 70s.

I CAN see the appeal to a little boy or girl, having the live tick in a jar to look at. It was very considerate of the doctor, wasn't it?

Kim--I'm a big wimp when it comes to ticks, as you no doubt discerned. :o) Spiders don't usually bother me too much. I also have a hard and fast line when it comes to scorpions, even little itty bitty ones.

Monica--But I can't believe the doc didn't keep and kill it!? GROSS!! I KNOW! I'm still creeped out. It's sitting on my kitchen counter {shudder}.

I did get Ryan to see reason about why the tick can't stay in the house. We'll release it near the pond in our neighborhood on one of our walks today. Honestly, I'd love to flush it or burn it or stomp on it or nuke it, but he would be SO SAD and it's ultimately not worth it.

Suchlovelyfreckles--Thanks for itching on my behalf! Ooh! Suddenly I'M itchy all over!

Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck. :o)

Anonymous said...

Maybe you get used to them growing up in Mississippi, but ticks don't creep me out. I used to get them all the time. At bedtime we always did a tick check (vulvas and ears were the favorite tick spots). Then we'd either burn it off with a cigarette ala Burgess or we would rub the area with gasoline and then the tick would pop off. Yes, growing up in Mississippi, it was considered ok to put gasoline on your labia as a small child. Go figure.


Stella said...

*reads Kelly's post*


*runs away screaming*

Guess who didn't grow up in the South...

Rational Jenn said...

Kelly, you are cracking me up! Burning them off of, ah, delicate areas? Or was that just for ears? Either way, YIKES!

Suddenly, I'm reminded of that scene from Stand By Me. You know, with the leeches.

Stella--you are also cracking me up! Your reaction to Kelly's comment was pretty similar to mine! I was outdoors quite a bit as a kid, but somehow never managed to get a tick (that I recall). It can't just be a Southern thing--they have 'em all over, don't they? Mosquitoes always found me juicy and delicious, though.

Flibbert said...

Yeah. As a native of the rural parts of the south, this is a very not-big-deal to me, although, I am also prone to preferring death to critters that bother, so I'd likely allow the fascination of the critter to continue for about a day before we discuss keeping our house and persons safe from the animals that harm.

TJWelch said...

What about petroleum jelly? I remember my mother saying it would keep ticks from breathing so that they would either die or detach themselves, but maybe that's an old wive's tale.

Rational Jenn said...

Flibbert--that's exactly my strategy. We've looked at it, talked to it, talked about it, looked up information about it on the internet, discussed the possibility of opening a Tick Museum one day....and he has accepted that it must go live outside today. Generally, that's my stance on bugs--they Live Outside.

TJWelch, thanks for stopping by! I'm hopeful we'll be able to let it go without too much fuss. But I'll remember petroleum jelly for next time (ick--next time!).

Monica said...

I find it interesting that this topic has attracted 13 comments now :)