When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Pinworms with a purpose

Don't you just love the alliteration of this post's title?  Makes the topic seem a little less threatening, and hopefully a bit intriguing.

If you're reading this post, blame my friend, Katie.  No, she did not give us pinworms (at least, I don't think so - just kidding, Katie!).  She did, however, give me a book entitled "One Thousand Gifts."  If you haven't read it already, do yourself a huge favor and buy one ASAP.  It's all about discovering grace and gratitude even amidst the sufferings of this world.  Let me stop right there and say that in no way do I consider pinworms on the same level as the loss of a loved one, but there is a certain amount of suffering that comes with the territory.

I'm finding that in every situation, if I am willing to search for joy and purpose, it's just waiting to be found.  In focusing on the small joys, I can catch glimpses of a larger picture, a better plan.  One might wonder how all of this relates to pinworms.  Where is the joy and bigger picture in that situation?  I have been wondering that myself, and finally, finally with this last bout [yes, you read that right, there have been multiple episodes now], I think I've found it!

Drum roll, please....Shame!  This post is going to obliterate the shame surrounding pinworms!  I think we were allowed to catch them because God knew I couldn't keep my big mouth shut.  He knew I'd finally share about it.  I can't tell you how many threads I've read on the subject where the writers were embarrassed, isolated, and downright depressed.  Ugh! This problem is bad enough without the extra baggage of secrecy and shame - that ugly, insidious lie that whispers if they knew me, if they really knew me and all of my junk, I'd be humiliated, rejected, alone.  Shame is a bigger parasite than pinworms will ever be.

Forget that!  I will shout it from the rooftops: Our family has had pinworms!  Okay, that might be a little weird and dangerous, so probably not, but if you were to talk to my neighbors, you would know I have had many frank conversations about it.  Trust me, no one wants to be the first to share, but in the course of these conversations, nearly everyone I know has either had them in their home or knows someone who has.

For those of you lucky so and so's who have never contracted the little buggers, first of all, fall on your knees and praise God that you have dodged this bullet...so far.  I think it's kind of like what I call "poopapalooza," that time in a parent's life when their child(ren) discover the joys and playdoh-like properties of their own poo.  It's bound to happen to you or a close friend.  Most everyone I know has a story.

I'll never forget when Jack was potty-training [read: forgetting to flush], Caleb was cruising [crawling around to furniture and pulling himself up to standing], and I was making dinner.  Oh, the horrors!  You can read my lovely poem about it here.  When I posted it, a dear friend replied "Nee-ner-nee-ner-neeee-ner!"  You see, a few years before our incident, their own child had removed his diaper in the middle of nap time and created smelly masterpieces on the wall, crib, himself, etc.

But I digress...back to pinworms!  Oh the joys!  Allow me to share some super-fun facts:

Did you know pinworm eggs can survive outside the body for 2-3 weeks in a warm, moist environment?  You know, like in ASIA, where we happen to live now.

Did you know that some people can be pinworm carriers without know it or showing any symptoms? No, your potentially pinworm-infected friends can't come over.  Ever. Again.  Go play outside!

Did you know that the eggs love to lie in wait in the soil and sand?  Like the stuff all over our neighborhood.  Never mind what I just said about playing outside.  

Did you know a female pinworm lays 10 - 15 thousand eggs in one night?  Stupid overachievers.

Did you know young children are more likely than adults to contract pinworms due to not washing their hands before eating?  Or, in our case, because they suck their thumbs all the time.

Did you know that pinworms are kind of like vampires, only coming out at night?  And that they, too, are repulsed by garlic?

But here's the best part...Guess where they come out?  Ding! Ding! Ding!   You guessed it: your bottom!  Not even kidding.  After you've ingested the eggs, they travel to your intestines, grow into worms, mate, and the pregnant females travel to you bum.  They look like a little piece of white, wiggly thread (about the length of a staple).  How do I know?  Because I've done the midnight "flashlight safari" (as one blogging mom so aptly put it), pulling down the pants of any child who dared mention their bottom itched.  I know, I'm scarring them for life.  Don't judge.

Anyway, the pregnant females sneak out at night, depositing their microscopic eggs, all the while excreting an itchy mucous in the hopes that you'll scoop up their babies when you scratch and somehow ingest them.  Gross!  Gross!  Gross! (And on a side note, female pinworms sound like terrible mothers...)

Okay, so now we've admitted that we've ingested worm eggs...I can kind of see where the shame factor comes in.  But the thing is, you can catch these buggers anywhere!!!  Those thousands upon thousands of eggs that were laid at night can end up on any surface and can even go airborne and be inhaled.  It's insane.  The craziest part is trying to get rid of them.

So what's a mom to do?

1.  Get the medicine from the doctor or pharmacist.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  You either have to drag all the kids into the doctor's office where they can pick up who knows what else, or you can suffer the shame (there it is again) of a pharmacy visit.  You see, pharmacies in Singapore are tiny.  Tiny and crowded.  If you have claustrophobia, don't even think about going inside.  So imagine standing at the counter, with the next person in line a mere foot away, as you whisper the hushed particulars (who has them, how long, did you actually see them?).  Ugh!  Next time I'm going to joke loudly about it, and maybe those people pressing up against my back will take two steps back.

2.  Shower your kids every morning to wash away the eggs deposited at night.  Do you have a child who is tough to wake in the morning?  Well, I have the solution for you!  Pinworms!  That's right, now you too can have a wide awake, screaming child in a matter of minutes.  Simply remove them from their bed, deposit them in the shower, strip them, and begin to wash their bottom.  From bleary-eyed to teary-eyed in no time flat.  You're welcome!

3.  Wash all the bedding and towels and underwear and pajamas and stuffed animals in hot water every day for the rest of your life.  And when your washing machine has a maximum capacity of 6kg (think one sheet, one bath towel and one hand towel), you will be doing laundry 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until you die or until the Second Coming.  

4.  Clean like a maniac.  Wipe down all surfaces, vacuum all carpets, mop all floors every day forever and ever and ever.  Nope, better yet, just burn the house down.  No, that will cause insurance issues.  Just relocate.  Leave it all and start over.  According to my research, the occurrence of pinworms is lowest in Taipei thanks to a government-sponsored deworming program....再见 Singapore, 你好 Taipei!  (Goodbye Singapore, hello Taipei!)

5.  Read blog posts, medical studies, and doctors' websites until 1 A.M. every night, simultaneously ordering every known natural remedy known to man on Amazon (black walnut oil, clove oil, Eradicator spray, wormwood).  Feed your children food grade Diatomaceous Earth (not really dirt, just tastes like it), garlic, and pineapples, simultaneously cutting out all added sugars from their diets (because someone somewhere wrote that pinworms thrive on sugar).  And the most-loved mother of the year award goes to...

5.  Come to a place of peace and joy.  Chances are, this isn't the last we've seen of pinworms in our house.  The doctor informed me that as long as I let the kids play in the garden (i.e. outside in the grass) and as long as they suck their thumbs, we are pretty much guaranteed to become re-infested.  Like many other people in this region, we will all take the medicine every few months, just to be safe.  In the meantime, I will still obsessively clean my home, order thumb guards for the kids, and force them to take all the natural rememdies possible.  What I won't do is let this ruin my life, or make me bitter toward my children, or isolate me from my friends (although, anyone reading this might never want to set foot in our home again).  

I want to live as an authentic life as possible.  I want people who have pinworms to get rid of the shame and stigma.  According to the online Encyclopedia of Children's Health:
"It is estimated that pinworms infect more than 400,000,000 people throughout the world or approximately 10 percent of humans."  These people aren't dirty or gross.  They are your friends and neighbors. 

If you've got them, hang in there!  If you managed to get rid of them, bravo!!  If you've never had them, please, be gentle toward those who have.  Good night friends!  (We're off to buy a bigger washer first thing in the morning!)


My Joy

Tonight I went in to check on the kids before turning in to bed.  What an age of innocence reigns right now.  I push Maddie's mess of curls off her forehead and press my cheek against her skin.  "I love you," I whisper.  "You are a good, good girl, and I love you so much."  She doesn't stir.

I flip off the bathroom light on the way to the boys' room.  Tripping on cars, I make my way to Parker's bed.  His face is buried in pillows.  Just a hint of cheeks peeks at me.  Enough to kiss and nuzzle.  "Your mommy loves you," I whisper, moving away as he turns his head on the pillow.

Jack is mumbling something from the top bunk, and a smile spreads over my face.  There is something about checking on the kids at night...Sometimes I just need to peek in and see the tops of their heads above their blankets.  Other nights I want to hear them breathing.  At times, I will kiss their sleeping faces until they squirm.  But Jack, just hearing that adorable, small, strong voice is enough for tonight.  I won't interrupt.  Keep dreaming those big dreams, son.  Tell me all about it in the morning. 

I step over Caleb, stretched out on the trundle, his head dappled in silvery moonlight.  I'm drawn to the window, my eyes peering through the branches of the tree just outside.  How is it that the moon can be so timid and distant some nights and so bold others?  Tonight the light is practically blasting through the leaves, bathing everything in an ethereal glow.  Amazing.  Try as I might, no smartphone picture will do justice to this beauty.  No matter, there are other beauties awaiting my attention.

I make my way back to the blond haired boy lying low and bend to kiss his face, my hand resting on his tiny chest.  With one thumb tucked in his mouth, his other hand finds mine, tiny fingers curling around my thumb.  My heart squeezes, and I stand still, bent, savoring.  Untangling myself, I stumble through the toys and sit at the desk, anxious to capture the sweet moments my camera cannot.

My joy is full tonight.  These recordings are only a fraction of the blessings of the day.  Aaron's safe journey to Malaysia, good news from the doctor, finding my car in the parking garage, having great girlfriends over for tea after the kids were put to bed - all good things.

There is a also a sink full of dishes, two racks of laundry to fold, homework folders to sign.  All waiting for me.  Also, all good things.  I am writing tonight to remember.  How easily I can overlook these daily joys - big and small, obvious and obscure.  But not tonight.  Tonight I will record and remember and be thankful.


1 Thessalonians 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.