To protect the kids from the inevitable ticks that come from walking in the woods at Great Grandma's farm, I forced them to wear jeans and long-sleeved shirts, even on what turned out to be a surprisingly hot (80 degrees) spring day.
Long sleeves weren't enough.
It started when the 7-year old found a tick crawling on her sock. Then the 11-year old found one, and we were off to the tick races. Brendan's city boy eyes grew wider and wider, and he grew a little paler. After we found one on his back, I made the mistake of telling him that ticks like to crawl...uh...into hairy places. At that, he practically had his pants off IN MY GRANDMOTHER'S LIVING ROOM. I persuaded him to move the party into the back hallway, where I inspected him and he was tickless.
The others weren't so lucky.
Aunt Pat didn't help, as she casually mentioned that she'd tested positive for several tick diseases, but if you can "get the ticks off within 24 hours, you're pretty safe from disease."
By the time we left, my kids were in the back of the van with their pants off, inspecting their legs and feet for ticks. Brendan kept telling me to hold their jeans out of the window to let the wind get rid of any ticks. But at 80 mph, I envisioned the wind getting rid of the jeans, so I inspected the seams, pulled off a few ticks and squished them.
That night, I inspected everyone again, including myself - - 3 ticks. Yippee. I was calm and kept everyone else calm.
At 3am, however, I woke up with my hands in my hair, holding (what I subconsciously must have known was) a tick between my fingers. I was lying there for a good 10 minutes, trying to decide if I really wanted to get out of my nice comfy bed to walk into the bathroom to see if I was really holding a tick between my fingers.
I did. It was. So my friend the tick made it through 2 showers, a pony tail, and a solid hair-brushing to surprise me at 3am by moving around on my scalp.
I decided against telling Brendan, because the sheets would have been stripped at 3am. Forgeddaboudit.
From 3-4am I lay awake, debating whether or not I should sneak upstairs to the kids' room and inspect their little scalps with a flashlight. Fret. Fret. Fret.
Then I realized that waking up to a flashlight on your head at 3am would do more harm than good, and I went back to sleep.
Next time we visit Great Grandma on the Farm, we will wear lots of layers again, and bring a good supply of Deet.