Of Lice, Fleas, and Worms

fleas, lice, worms

As parents, we want our kids to be healthy and happy. We want them to be clean and free from disease and infections. We also want them to be able to play outside, to build and create, to have water and sand and dirt at their disposal. We want them to have pets to love and animals to enjoy.

With those desires and their fulfillment, we sometimes experience not so pleasant things as parents.

fleas, lice, worms


The first entrance of worms to our household came through my two-year-old who was being potty trained. I reached down to empty her potty chair one evening before bedtime and saw those worms. White, wriggling, and very much alive climbing up and around her stool. I thought I would die. How could this happen? I wondered. This proved I was a horrible mother. Really. What good, conscientious mother would allow her kids to get worms?!

I called my SIL who told me to call our friend Cindy*.

“Because,” she told me, “she’ll know what to do. Her kids always have worms.”

My friend Cindy?!  It couldn’t be. Her kids were the epitome of a prince and his princess sisters. They were always immaculate and wore expensive clothes. They also had cats and a sandbox. So did we.

After a sleepless night, I called Cindy, who pooh-poohed my concern. She told me to go to the store and buy Reese’s Pinworm Medicine or Pin-X. It was no big deal, she said.

“Just read the directions and do what it says.” I wasn’t satisfied, so I called the Pediatrician. Guess what the office told me?! Exactly what Cindy had said.

I’m surprised I made it through the check-out or didn’t beg Dave to go pick up the medicine for me. I certainly didn’t want the neighborhood to see what I was purchasing. Horrible mother, you know.

The entire household got treated for worms – except for Dave and me. I figured I’d know if I  had worms and I wasn’t about to take that medicine if I could help it.

We boned up on washing hands before meals, and I washed all bedding, pillows, and clothing. The entire house was vacuumed and all floors were mopped. My house was cleaner than it had been in weeks.

We continued to have a sandbox and cats. So in a few years, I was a pro at dealing with worms. [Don’t be aghast.  We didn’t even have an episode once a year, but once you’ve been through it a few times, you become a pro.] Our worm episodes became further apart as we stressed washing hands before meals and before snacking. As if we tried – some of us did. A few of my offspring could have cared less about having worms and continued to battle it to the point that I got a prescription from the Pediatrician – and that took care of the worms.

Head Lice


Our family was spared the lice episode when we missed a cousin reunion due to a pregnancy. Siblings and cousins weren’t as lucky. Some of them came home to the beginning of school and shared their lice among classmates. It seems the camp where the reunion was held was the contributor to the problem. I’ve helped friends pick through hair, but we were blessed in never having to deal with this. I told a friend one morning when I was checking through hair before school that I was glad we never had to deal with lice. A dose of Pin-X was easier than taking a nit comb through someone’s hair. You know what? I don’t think any less of parents whose kids get lice. That’s because lice are no respecter of persons.


fleas, lice, worms

The fleas came into our household on more than one occasion, and usually from a stray cat who thought she had to be inside. Once we had a niece visiting us who kept sneaking kittens into the house – even though we had told her they had to stay outside because of their fleas. Yet our worst episode came one summer after we had multiple generations of cats and kittens at our place. You can read about that here. Having fleas was always an excuse to spend the day away – and swimming was a great way to fill the time we needed to be gone while our house was being flea-bombed.

We can’t choose, but if I could, I’d rather skip the head lice. I, for one, am glad those days are behind me.  We survived and made it through those mounds of laundry and over the counter Pin-X medication. We made it past the flea bombs and getting them set off in different rooms in the house as we set off the room farthest from the door first and proceeded to the one just inside the door.

fleas, lice, worms

I’ll tell you this. I’m glad those days are over.

If you’ve been through this recently or are going through it now, it will be okay. It will pass. You’ll survive and come to realize that these things aren’t a sign that you’re a bad parent.

Someday, you’ll be looking back and it won’t seem to have been so hard. If you’re like me, you’ll even wonder why you thought these culprits were the sign of bad parenting. Someday, you’ll be glad, like me, that those days are behind you. You’ll realize that being a good parent has nothing to do with fleas, lice, or worms.


*I doubt that Cindy would mind, but I changed her name just in case.