I never said the word, "tick" out loud, because Elizabeth knows what a tick is. Or rather, she has seen enough pictures of them and has heard me talk ad nauseam about the time my cousins spotted one embedded in my EAR when I was 12-months old. She's also heard about the time I pulled an engorged one off the back of my neck when I was in 5th grade. I'd been playing kickball at recess and was scratching around my hairline when I felt the bump. When I pulled it off, the head was missing and that is how I wound up spending the rest of the day in the infirmary. It's also why I was released to my mother, who spent an evening digging around my hairline with tweezers and a scalpel.
Thirty years later, I can still feel the scar tissue.
The tick tonight was flat and small. I ran out of the bathroom looking for my tweezers, and did a quick Google search on tick removal. "Grasp the body of the tick close to the skin. Firmly and steadily pull the tick straight out of the skin. Put the tick in a sealed container and save it in case your child becomes ill. Swab the skin with alcohol."
While I stood over Elizabeth with the headlamp, Charlie did an excellent job pulling the blood sucker off our daughter. He was able to extract the entire thing, head and all. He dropped it in to a shot glass that was filled with alcohol to kill it, and then we called our pediatrician's office.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to console a terrified Elizabeth. "This is the downside of warmer temperatures, and living on the edge of a forest. We need to be vigilant about checking ourselves after we've been outside playing. We'll cut back any tall grass down by the creek and we'll wear light colored clothes and bug spray." Charlie searches the internet and discovers it was a Lone Star tick which might transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
In the time it took him to figure this information out, Carolyn and William - neither who have had showers yet - have both stripped down to their bare skin and are hysterically checking each other for ticks. For as much as our children will bicker among themselves, I was struck by the sweetness when Elizabeth, through her tears, said to her siblings, "I hope that this never, ever happens to you! I hope that you never, ever get a tick!!"
Then she looked at me and asked, "Why Mom? WHY ARE THERE TICKS?"
"Love, I honestly don't know." I replied. "But, they're on our planet, so I'm sure that they have some kind of purpose." She looked up to the ceiling and cried, "God, WHY did you make TICKS? They are the stupidest things ever!" Then she sobbed, "I WANT TO GO BACK TO CALIFORNIA!"
"But there are ticks in California, too!" I told her.
"Well, where AREN'T there any ticks? That's where I want to move!"
Unfortunately, I don't think there's any grass there either, which means the chance of us using our new riding lawnmower is slim to none.