How A Day in The Park Turned Into a Nightmare

It was the perfect day here in the suburbs of Chicago. We live in a beeeautiful area not far from the lake halfway between Chicago and the Wisconsin border.

I decided to take my son and my niece to one of our favorite forest preserves. We love this one because it has easy trails; essential when one hiker is a sensitive 4yo. A Counsel Ring; this is the Counsel Ring, and this is what we do there. Extremely helpful if you have a highly energetic 7yo.

And a pond. This is a picture of a frog from the pond today, an essential during tadpole season.

As I mentioned it was a GLORIOUS day. Just the perfect temperature, it seemed like it might get a little cold as we crossed from prairie into woods, but since we were moving; the day was perfect. It was impossible not to revel in the beauty of early spring, especially since it is supposed to be 50 and raining tomorrow. And so my friends on Instagram where regaled by these images:

We made it to the pond. Fantastic Icky Mucky Pond. We decided to hike around it, and then rest for a snack in the little viewing area. It was awesome, we saw tons of frogs (see picture above) looked for crawdads, and basically had an adventure. As we were walking I noticed these funny red jumping spiders on my niece’s pants. I really didn’t think much of it, and by the time we got to the shelter they seemed to be gone. We had some snacks, “accidentally” dropped some Annie’s Bunnies into the water to feed the fish, and saw a TON of tadpoles. Dude! They were HUGE! As we were hanging out I noticed one of the “spiders” crawling on me. I had to actually physically remove it, as it did not respond to flicking. At this point a mini-red flag was hoisted in my brain. Still, no harm no foul. Although, that mini nagging flag told me to start back to the Nature Center, and so we did. As we were walking my son said “Mom! There’s something crawling on my neck, GET IT OFF!” I looked, and yes, there was one of those “red jumping spiders” on his neck, once again not responding to flicking, I had to pinch it off. My son wanted to know what it was and I told him it was a “red spider.” Somehow this got translated to “witchy spider” by the 4yo and “giant killer poisonous red spider” by the 7yo. So while 7yo was trying to terrify 4yo, I discovered a “witchy spider” on me. OK folks, at this point I’m not gonna lie, I had figured out what they were, they were TICKS. Yup, big, ugly, tenacious, bloodsucking TICKS. And so this is what ensued:

me: shoot, there’s another one on me. (remove)
boy: Ouch! There’s something behind my ear! (remove another)
girl: Queenie! There’s something on my neck! (remove another)
me feeling something moving on my leg, pulled up my whole pants leg and removed another: GROSS!
boy: Mom! I feel something moving in my hair! (remove another)
me to girl: stop moving, there’s another one.

By now, full-fledge panic had ensued. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t fallen prey to the panic myself, I mean BLOODSUCKING TICKS were walking all over me! I could feel it!!!! We were about 100 yards from the nature center and my son couldn’t take it any longer. He pulled off his shirt because he was so sure he was crawling with them. Thankfully there was nothing. He was demanding to know what these “things” really were. He’s no dummy and using his amazing powers of deduction he understood that these were not spiders. I tried to explain what they were, which really only made it worse. For some reason, 4yo sensitive girl, didn’t panic like us. I can’t tell you why, instead she just went on, and on, and on, and on about the “witchy spiders” and how she didn’t like them, and how they should kill them all and let’s go tell them at the Nature Center, they need to kill all the “witchy spiders.” Well this only inflamed 7yo’s already panicked state, and he could not refrain from saying over, and over, and over, in his panic induced condescending voice; that these were not “witchy spiders” these were ticks, there is no such thing as “witchy spiders” and could she please stop talking about them because she was only making it worse. She of course alternately giggled and goaded him all the way to the Nature Center. Boy was now also panicked by his indecent exposure, he has a very high sense of propriety and considers being topless tantamount to being naked. However his shaken nerves could not bring him to put his shirt back on, and so once again a panicked interaction occurred.
me: Put your shirt on
boy: I can’t
me: OK don’t put your shirt on.
boy: But then they’ll see me naked.
me: I checked your whole shirt, there are no ticks anywhere.
boy: Are you sure?
me: I am positive, why would I lie? Look for yourself.
boy: Maybe I’ll just hold it up like this (covering the front of his chest).
me: Fine.
boy: Can you just help me put it on? Are you sure there are no ticks?
me: Put your shirt on.

By now we are walking into the nature center. A few “rangers” were lounging around the desk.
me: Hey, we were walking around the pond, and afterwards it seemed like we were covered all over by ticks. Is that possible.
Nodding their collective heads sympathetically, ranger 1: Yeah, we have had the worst tick out-break we have ever seen. Don’t worry though, these are Dog Ticks, not Deer Ticks. These are not the one’s that cause lyme disease. (Oh I feel much better now.)
ranger 2: I never left my desk yesterday and had two on me.
ranger 3: That’s why I keep tape with me when I go out there. (Apparently tape is an effective removal tool, unlike flicking.)
ranger 1: Yesterday there was one just crawling on the counter. (She makes a scrunched up face.)
ranger 2: You’ll probably want to do a Tick Check when you get home.
me: Are you kidding? I am going into your bathroom right now and doing a Tick Check.

And so I did. I knew what I would find, it was impossible to believe that the Ticks That Were in Plain Sight while walking through the forest were the end. I started with 4yo, even though 7you was panicked, he wouldn’t stand still, so he had to wait. I pulled off her shirt – all good. I pulled off her pants – all bad. There were 4 Ticks crawling on the inside of her pants and one on her leg. Now I have to admit, I am squeamish, but I had to hold it together for the kids. So I removed the one from her leg quickly, and then silently freaking out removed the ones from her pants. At some point, when I was leaning over, one must have jumped from me to her hair and was burrowing into the hair at the front of her head. This is when I almost lost it. I started to sing a song, it was the only thing I could think of to keep my cool. I started to sing some crazy tune and sang the words “Girly I love you, you’re so great, Girly I love you, yes I do.” Over and Over. Without that song I am pretty sure I would have been screaming, because this was not the end by far. After checking every garment, shoe and bag I found roughly 20 more ticks. That included the ones that were crawling on the inside of MY pants. And believe me, trusting a 4yo and a 7yo to Tick Check you is nothing short of unnerving. I mean with their collective attention span I think they looked for 30 seconds. When they felt I had adequately checked their bodies they deserted me for the Nature Center activity center. I was left alone to finish the inspection and shudder every 5 seconds. I was finally confident I had removed them all, there was no way I was bringing a tick home.

I dropped 4yo off and told her Dad to do a thorough Tick Check on her scalp, using a comb to part her hair. At this, she began balling. Why now?! Boy had a serious case of the Heebie Jeebies (which btw I had to explain the meaning of 15 times in those last 30 minutes) and wanted to go straight home to shower. Sounded good, he was sure there were ticks in his hair, he has a mini afro, finding ticks in there, not so easy. We decided to pop over to KidSnips for a haircut and got the all-clear.

Since then the boy has asked me to check him for ticks 100 times and every 10 seconds I feel a tick crawling on me. Even now. As I type. And so you won’t be able to un-see this. Here’s what were crawling, by the dozen, all over me and the kids.

Even if you hate me for making you look at this foul creature, could you please clicky click the mommy banner? I’ll love you lots!

  • That is so gross! Germany is a tick area, so the vaccines are usual procedure. A couple of years ago, Lily came home from a trip to the forest with a tick on her butt. But I’ve never seen a tick flood like that!ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      Stephanie ~ NEVER EVER have I even heard of so many ticks on one person!!! I just contacted the Park District and told them they need to warn Mother’s could you imagine if you went back there with an infant??!!ReplyCancel

  • We have woods all around us, so tick check is a daily event. Although I think a state a panic would ensue if we get this infestation!ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      Ellen, Excactly! One tick is almost expected, but that many??ReplyCancel

  • Oh my! I hate ticks. I had a bad experience with one as a child and still have a ‘scar’ on my leg because of it. I hope you are all now tick free!ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      JJ we are tick free, but not heebie jeebie free!ReplyCancel

  • Thanks Jen- I just started getting itchy in my scalp. Chills!

    Hope you got them all!ReplyCancel

  • I clicked the banner, but I may for real never unsee that tick, yeeeeeeeeeeeuck!

    I’m sorry you had to go through that, and the kids too. Seems like they’d have warning signs or something up!ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      Rosey, I just called the Park District and said the same thing!ReplyCancel

  • Why are the rangers sitting in the visitor’s center and not out either warning people or putting up signs?!ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      Rachel I just got a call. They’re going to put signs up. I like being the “squeaky wheel.”ReplyCancel

  • Although my first thought at your title was “dear lord, don’t let it be like Deliverance,” this was pretty close. Gross. I hate ticks. We use tweezers and sometimes matches to get them off. And did you squish any full ones? Ewww. You’re welcome.ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      Miss. You suck. (see what I did there). None of them were full yet, but they are sticky little suckers. We flushed them.ReplyCancel

  • Yuck. I clicked on your Mommy banner because you totally warned me not to click on your post if I was squeamish (on fb) and I did it anyway. So it’s my own fault that I am itching like crazy from phantom bugs right now. Well, it’s a little your fault but I forgive you.ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      I really didn’t know what else to say. We’ve had phantom bug itches since it happened. I made my husband check me AGAIN today!ReplyCancel

  • For the love, that is awful!!! I’m sorry that I laughed at your (and mostly the kids’) pain. How could the rangers NOT have thought to put up a sign?!?!
    We have dealt with plenty of ticks at our house. Some of my kids just seem to be magnets for them. Of course, I never see them until they are embedded and big and full. The worst one ever was the one that got into the EYELASH line on my then-6 year old. He didn’t even realize it was there. He lost several eyelashes when I took that thing out.ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      Oh my gosh Christine!!! How did you get him to stay still?? I good barely get mine to stand still for the ones on his neck!ReplyCancel

  • christine

    Fortunately, he’s a tough kid. He just stood there and let me get it out. It might have something to do with the horrible thought of a tick staying in his eyelash.
    Aaaaand, I was thinking of you yesterday. My five year old was outside all afternoon, and when he came in, my daughter saw a tick on his shirt. I went over and saw one in his hair. I thought of you, and stripped him down right there at the front door. Fortunately, those were the only two.ReplyCancel

    • Jen

      Nice! Glad there were only two, my friend had one in her bed last night!ReplyCancel

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