Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Tick and the Bully

             I had just returned home from fishing.  I was tired.  I smelled of fish attractant and bug spray (though not enough as shall be revealed).  I sat down at the kitchen table, and my wife told me she had a story to tell me.  I like stories.  I was excited.  The story was this.  My wife had taken our two year old daughter to the park.  While there, an older boy pushed her when running up the slide.  My wife told the boy this was not acceptable (she is extremely calm and a former nanny).  Then the boy hit her, at which point she approached the boys’ nanny for a tepid and unfruitful conversation where the nanny asserted that he was “bad”.  My wife was upset.  I was a kaleidoscope of emotion.
            I had calmed down and was reclining in bed watching a show with my girls when I realized that my lower back was in serious pain.  More so than usual after a day of fishing.  I rubbed it and felt a little bump.  So I picked at it.  Because that’s what you do.  Now, I was hoping to find a ingrown hair, or a cancerous mole, or something normal.  Instead I looked into my pinched fingers and directly into the evil red (?) eyes of a small tick.  Now, I consider it a great act of bravery on my part that I held on to the squirming menace instead of shrieking like a girl and throwing the tick into the bed.  Instead, I went into nuclear meltdown calm mode and walked down to the kitchen with wife in tow.  I dropped the tick in the sink and burned it with matches.  I put it in the garbage disposal and turned that sucker on.  If I’d had a machine gun, the kitchen sink would be perforated. 
            OK.  We were calm.  What now.  Check the rest of my body (daughter was involved at this point and I could practically see the future therapy visits happening).  No more ticks.  To the internet, Tickman!  Within 20 minutes or so, we had learned enough to make us extremely paranoid and weirded out.  Good stuff, the internet.
            Now, it is important to note that I have spent many hours fishing, rolling in leaves, climbing trees, pounding through tall grasses, etc.  I have had ticks on me many times.  I had never had a tick IN me before though, and, to put it as eloquently as I can, I felt extremely icky.  I tried to be rational.  I told my wife that if I got lyme disease, I expected her to get tequila disease.  I knew the risk was low.  We washed the area and applied goop and bandaids.  And then we went to sleep.  And then the wait began.
            Bullies are usually big (and dumb or disturbed – “bad” is a copout).  Ticks are VERY small.  But they serve similar functions.  They pick on people who can’t defend themselves.  I was trying to catch fish.  I could not stop an insect the size of a Cheerio’s hole from viciously attacking the small of my back.  My daughter is a sweet little girl who has never been hit by anyone.  She was just trying to play on the slide. 
            I know this situation will come up again, and I worry about it.  One time we were on a hike, the three of us, my wife scouting up ahead.  Me behind with the little one (who was even littler at the time).  All of a sudden a giant black dog charges at my wife.  Then locks eyes on my daughter and charges again.  My wife yelled something like, “Pick her up!” or “Her…dog…DOG!”.  Something.  But there was no time to pick her up.  What there was time for was me to tackle the charging dog to the ground in a rolling mess of fur and dust.  Mid-roll, I realized that the dog was licking my face.  We rolled into my daughter and knocked her over.  I was up in a flash with my daughter on my hip, dragging the dog by the collar.  Around the bend I scared the bejesus out of an old hippy lady.  (I merely yelled, “That wasn’t COOL!”, but I’m a big guy).  She turned and left.
            But what do you do when a little kid pushes your baby?  All the impulses are bad.  Insults?  No good.  Hitting?  Hypocritical and no good.  Crying?  A real possibility.  But seriously, what can you do? 
            I know that my daughter is going to encounter mean people.  And I know that I can’t (and shouldn’t) try to be her protector all the time.  I also know that I am REALLY glad my wife was at the park and not me.  When it does happen to me, I am going to find the nearest tick and put it on the bullies face.  That’s fair, right?  My daughter is back at the park as I type this.  And I went fishing again yesterday.  Such is life.  No ticks or bullies today.
            Post-Script: So far, it does not appear that I have lyme disease.  My daughter has moved on.  I still feel a bit of rage, but I blame that on my wife’s failure to contract tequila disease.

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