And on the list of Things No One Tells You About Parenthood, worms should fall just under lice and just before warts. All of these would come after an entire annotated section detailing the realities of birth (and the weeks after) including a full disclosure on tearing, stitches, hemorrhoids and bloody nipples. Forget the idea of a list actually, this work needs to be a tome passed from one new parent to another with a deep analysis of sleep including topics ranging from how to get the baby to go to sleep—who knows—to how to get the eight-year-old to sleep through the night—really…who knows? I will send you money if you will send a trick that works. Sigh…I digress. I’ll write the sleep section to the imaginary guidebook of which I speak as soon as I take a nice, long nap (a few years should do it) and right after I recover from my PTSD around the subject (this may take a little longer).
Lucille went to the bathroom the other day only to make an alarming announcement.
“Mama!” she said from atop the toilet. “There’s a creature in my poo!”
She was delighted at what she saw. Seth and I sat at the kitchen table, each looking at the other. For a full 30 seconds neither of us moved until the grosser-than-you-could-ever-possibly-fathom clause of my motherly contract kicked in and I went to investigate. In the three steps to the bathroom, I hoped against hope for a wayward piece of toilet paper. Some grass in the toilet, perhaps. A spider someone had tried to flush. But this is not what I found.
“See look!” she said.
And there it was. A tiny, white worm the size of a stick pin.
After a few deep breaths I did what any mother would do. I Googled. Pinworms. Easy to diagnose, easy to treat.
“So babe,” I said as Lucille was finishing up going to the potty. Wash your hands really, really well. We’ll go to the doctor tomorrow and get some medicine to kill the worms in your tummy.”
“Oh, but they’re so cute,” she said. “I want to keep them!”
With that, I helped her scrub her little hands and mine too. By this point Eliza was pretty intrigued and even Seth had come into the bathroom to check out what all the fuss was about. Our bathroom is five feet by six feet. I fled for the door. With a grossed out husband and two curious kids, it was getting a little crowded in there.
The next day we landed in the doctor’s office on a worm eradication mission.
“Did you see them,” the doctor asked.
“Yes,” I said and she thankfully believed me so we were able to skip the test I’d read about on the internet having to do with clear tape to a sensitive area, another trip to the doctor’s office and a microscope to detect worms eggs.
With one look the doctor said, “little white, thin worms?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Pinworms,” she said and wrote down the name of an over-the-counter drug we all had to take.
“We don’t usually see these here,” she said. “They usually come up in the Southeast.”
“We just spent two weeks in North Carolina,” I said.
“Oh, that’s totally where she got them,” she said. “Just give her the medicine and in a week give her another dose. That should take care of it.”
We headed straight for the pharmacy.
It is my great hope that we have blitzed these parasites from our lives and I’ve added it to the mental list I have running of the other things we’ve survived as parents: lice, warts, worms, years on end of no sleep, 106 degree fevers. It reminded me that forever and always, this parenthood thing, this toughest job you’ll ever love, is not for the weak at heart. If only we had a how-to book to alert us to the blind curves along the way. I’m going to take a little power nap and dream about that very thing.