Friday, June 10, 2011

The Bad Mother

This is a tale of long ago that seems appropriate to relate at this time of year. Actually, I don't like to talk about it at all, but my dear daughter has been bugging me (pun intended) to write the incident down for posterity . . . and probably so she can garner some sympathy and illustrate what a hard childhood she had to endure. (Ahem.)

Up in our neck of the woods we have a particularly vicious biting insect called the black fly. Picture a regular, little ol' gnat about twice the size of normal, pitch black and very sturdy looking. On steroids.

These terrible creatures travel in marauding bands (well, it seems like that anyway) and can drive both humans and animals stark raving bonkers by flying directly into eyes, ears and up noses. But the worst thing about them is their bite. If you could look at one through a microscope, you would see they have mandibles with serrated teeth. They don't bite like a mosquito by sticking a tubular proboscis into your skin and sucking out blood but rather they actually cut or saw a hole in your skin and drink the blood. (Feeling creeped out yet?) This results in a painful sting (yup, sorta like you've been cut) which often produces blood running in a little rivulet down your skin.

Okay, on with the story.

We moved up here to Minnesota from Illinois the year our daughter was two years old. The following early summer, we were eager to get our fruit tree orchard started. Our order of trees arrived during the week so the next Saturday found us outside digging holes and planting trees.

It was in the middle of bug season so Papa Pea, a not quite three year old Chicken Mama and I were dressed to cover as much skin as possible including wearing head nets.

The future orchard spot was in an open field a ways from the house so we had to take Chicken Mama with us to do the planting. She was too young to stay in the house alone. I had taken special precaution to protect her from the black flies by dressing her in slacks tucked into her little rubber boots, a zipped up hooded sweatshirt tucked into her pants, gloves and a wide brimmed straw hat over the sweatshirt hood with head net on top of that and tied securely around her waist.

The black flies were thick but we had a job that needed to be done and our clothing and head nets were doing a good job of protecting us.

We hadn't been at work long before Chicken Mama started whining. I had brought a blanket for her to sit on and toys for her to play with so I didn't know why she seemed cranky. This was a child who was used to entertaining herself and she was very good-natured and rarely whiny. I talked to her but couldn't figure out why she was unhappy. She wanted to go back in the house. I explained why we all had to be outside.

I don't know how long it was before I finally took her inside but I know she was a very, very sad little girl by the time I did. This wasn't usual behavior for her and even though Papa Pea and I were trying so hard to get those darn trees planted, I had to leave him to the chore and take my little bambino indoors to find out what was the matter with her.

Once we got in the house I started to undress her by taking off her head net. The first thing I saw were trickles of blood running down her forehead. Then it got worse.

Somehow, some way a bunch of black flies had gotten up inside the head net, inside the hood of her sweatshirt and into her hair. Her whole little blonde head was nearly covered with blood and angry, red welts with lines of blood oozing down her little neck.

Do ya think I felt guilty? Do ya think I felt horrible? Do ya think I felt like Bad Mother of the Year? I started crying realizing how much agony she had been in for so long while I admonished her for being cranky and uncooperative while mom and pop worked at getting the orchard planted.

Well, I'm glad to say that Chicken Mama survived without seeming to suffer any serious harm. It took me a LOT longer to get over the incident than it did her, I know that for certain.

Just getting this story set down on paper is making my scalp itch like crazy. It's something I wish had never happened but for many years has proved to be good fodder for Chicken Mama to get attention and illustrate how difficult a childhood she had while growing up in the rough and tough wilderness of northeastern Minnesota. (Big grin!)


The Apple Pie Gal said...

Awe! Poor thing! No wonder she was having a fit :( You are NOT the bad Momma though. These are the things memories are made of.

You should be writing a book. You very eloquently brought us to the orchard and made us itch.

CM...hope you have recovered and use this often ;)

Yart said...

When I was little my mom and dad took me out to the bush... We had family in the great white north. Both my dad and I ended up in the hospital as we were both allergic to the black fly bites... Nasty little creatures!

Susan said...

No wonder she wears a bug suit now! I hate those buggers (pun intended). I am like a black fly beacon - just put me outside and ring the dinner bell. I would safely bet that all of us have had our 'bad mother' moments. Just not all of us are brave enough to fess up. I would also bet that you've done more than enough to make up for the Black Fly Debacle. Right, CM?

Amy Dingmann said...

So glad we don't have black flies in central MN. Your description of them creeped me out. Something sawing into my skin? Blech!!

The feeling bad about yelling at the kid thing - I hear ya. Just like when my youngest was beating on the glass door after getting stung (again) by a bee, so I was yelling at him for being dramatic and almost busting the door (he'd been stung so many times before....) and it just happened THIS time was the time he had a full out, take me to the ER, severe allergic reaction. :( Yup, Mother of the Year. Where do you hang your award? ;)

Jennifer Jo said...

Oh, the poor dear! Makes my heart ache and my eyes water just thinking about it!

I've had my fair share of bad mother incidents---I'm with you all the way.

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Hey who hasn't had an open safety pin in their diaper or rolled over when the car made a left turn since car seats were non-exsistant in the old days. Only the strong survive, right? And therapists would be out of business if parents got it 'right' all the time ;)

Erin said...

Poor Chicken Mama, LOL, wow as a mother I can relate to how you must have felt. I think we have all had our share of "bad mommy" moments so you are in good company :)

I just love, love these stories. You need to compile them all Laura Ingalls style, you know - in all your spare time!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I always thought that one of the strange things about the black flies bites was that they look so awful but don't particularly hurt so they can get you and you don't notice til the blood trickles down. Or is that just me?

I was bitten by some large fly - probably a black fly - on my eyelid when I was about 4. My eye swelled shut for a day or two. I was also once bitten (by mistake) while feeding my grandparents very enthusiastic tame chipmunks. My mother was never a fan of the woods :)

Mama Pea said...

APG - Got a kick out of you saying I made you itch! Had the same effect on myself. :o}

Yart - Omigosh, at least I didn't send CM to the hospital! My dad was that allergic to bug bites . . . as you and your dad are.

Susan - Hey, maybe you and I could hire out as "bait" at picnics and such. Nobody will be bothered at all by biting insects and I will be covered! We could stand in the middle of a gathering and keep the bugs away from everyone else!

Mama Tea - Oh my, I think you may have "one upped" me with your Bad Mommy moment. Is this the boy that has to carry an epi-pen now?

Mama Pea said...

JJ - I suppose it's hard to avoid Bad Mommy moments but those are the ones I tend to remember, rather than when I should have been hailed in a national magazine for being a shining example of good parenting. (Oh wait, maybe I never had one of those moments.) :o\

Jane - Haha! That's what I tell CM. It all made her the strong north woods woman she is today! ;o}

Erin - Aw, thanks, my friend. I just recently read of someone who did extensive research on Laura Ingalls Wilder and claimed that (are you ready to hear this?) Laura didn't write the Big House on the Prairie books. It was her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who "embellished extensively" upon stories her mom (Laura) had told her. (You don't even want to hear what this researcher found out about Pa!)

Jen - We need to get you in a research program and find out what you have that most of the rest of us don't have that makes you able to withstand black fly bites! I even itch for about a week on the site of one of their bites. I did just recently talk with someone who said if she took a shower after getting a lot of bites, the bites stopped itching. I figure I'd be taking about four showers a day during black fly season!

judy said...

I can't believe you were a "bad mother" just a busy one- for myself I had it more together when I was younger-- now I think I burned to many brain cells along the way. Are we the cause of or children being successful or not?

Chicken Mama said...

Awww, you told that so sadly that were a crier I'd BE crying! :(

BUT, what I can add is that I truly think this misery served me well in life. Yes, I hate bugs BUT their bite does not overly bother me. And, I think that's in large part due to my early (and strong!) introduction to their sting / venom!

So, in the end, all's well! :) xox

Mama Pea said...

judy - Ha! Being a mom isn't easy, no matter what!!

Chickie Mama - Well, see? That just goes to prove that the incident was much more traumatic to ME than to you!! And if subjecting you to losing a quart or so of blood at the age of 2-3/4 made you more tolerant of bug bites . . . hey, I was a success! ;o}

kelly said...

The same thing basically happened to me as a child! I was with my dad searching for morels in the woods just south of the twin cities. I came home covered (COVERED) with gnat bites. I was also a blonde little girl with matted bloody hair! I got so sick from it that I couldn't go to school. I was more sad that I couldn't go to kindergarten than I was about having a million bug bites! Your story made me laugh!

Dirt Lover said...

Awww, poor baby! I can imagine how bad you felt, though. We don't want anything bad to happen to our little ones, especially when they are trying to tell us about it. She survived though, and now that's something she can tell when she's old and gray.

Mama Pea said...

kelly - Guess something just like this has probably happened to more than one little tyke!

Lori - Yupper, she does love to tell the tale of what I did to her! ;o}