Christmas. A time for giving and receiving. This year, I would like to thank Santa for the gift of threadworms. My kids asked for a hamster but worms were an interesting alternative. To be honest, nits would have been preferable and I never thought I'd hear myself say that.
An estimated 40% of children under 10 years old have threadworms. If your child gets them then there's a very high chance you'll get them too. Think about that next time your child offers you something to eat from their chubby little hand. If you've not had worms, then it's a miracle. If you have had them then you know what a pain in the... how troublesome they are.
- Calling them 'threadworms' or 'worms' will fill you with disgust. You will inevitably them 'wigglies' as if that somehow makes them more palatable and less like you have an H. R. Giger creation emerging from your behind. No form of nomenclature can make the concept comprehensible to children. For the hundredth time, you can't catch worms by touching grass.
- Ideally, find a friend who has also had them. Yes, this does mean admitting it to someone but if you find a 'safe' person then you can share a whole wealth of stories. A threadworm friend will make you feel less dirty and victimised and you can swap endless tips on things you daren't Google. If they have followed correct hygiene procedure for eradicating worms, then they may even be able to tell you when it's acceptable to stop cleaning the darned house from top to bottom 24/7 until your nails break and your hands bleed.
- Disinfectant wipes are your best friend. Think worms and eggs and you will have no qualms about adding to the mountain of wipes threatening to bury life as we know it. When I say they are your friend I mean so much more than that - when you have been through six mega and twenty family packs in a fortnight they become part of your soul as well as your global footprint.
- Never again will you mock Gillian McKeith for examining stools. If only she too had enjoyed the added benefit of a phone with a torch.
- Thank the processes of childbirth and parenting for all they have done to destroy your dignity. Only when you are devoid of dignity can you collect poo in toilet paper, part buttock cheeks and peer between them, and examine underwear with a magnifying glass. As for examining your own bum, mirrors help but you'll wish you kept up those gymnastics classes your mother used to take you to.
- Eggs can survive on surfaces for up to three weeks. Try not to contemplate this too deeply, particularly whilst surveying the multiple nooks and crannies in your children's vast toy collection. Neither should you dwell too much on the fact that the eggs can float and be inhaled. If you do, you risk being driven into a never-ending frenzy of cleaning and hit a wall of hopelessness three days in. You may even be driven so far as to consider a can of petrol and a match. The only reason you don't torch the house is that by this point you truly believe these cockroaches of the derrière could survive a nuclear apocalypse.
- Your partner, your kids and your extended family will think you have gone bonkers as you remind them from behind your facemask to wash their hands again ... and again and again. They may be surprised when you wake them at 5am to change the beds but remember that this is war. Don't worry that you are creating a circle of OCD sufferers - this is what you want and need in a threadworm situation. All elbows to doors (don't touch the handle) and step away from that shared towel!
- Yes, kids do scratch their bums a lot. Before the worms moved in, you'd probably just have let it go but now your world goes into slow motion when you spy a small hand sliding out of pants. You launch yourself across the room when you realise that the hand is about to make contact with and contaminate a surface. The child turns and you see the look of fear on their face turn into a smile as they avoid the surface ... and put their fingers straight into their mouth. And so the reinfestation begins.
- Just thinking about threadworms will make you want to scratch. When you sense that itch you won't know which came first, the sensation or the thought. In the course of reading this post, I guarantee you will have felt the urge to scratch your bottom. Now go and wash your hands.
- Somewhere in the back of your mind you just can't let go of the fact that little invisible worm eggs can be anywhere. Anywhere. Have your little visitors sent out a wriggly messenger to tell all their mates to come over and join the party in the nice warm place they've found? Even if you have successfully de-wormed yourself with medication and extreme housework, statistics and sod's law suggest you shouldn't be surprised if worms come knocking on your back door again.