My little Bear has poison ivy on his face, which almost got into his eyes, and I was too much of a dumbcluck to recognize it.
He turned up middle of last week with a small scratch on the bridge of his nose, next to his left eye, which he oddly claimed was a mosquito bite. That should’ve tripped my suspicions. Instead, I took him at his word while the skin around his right eye, too, began to turn purplish and reddish. He had a tummy ache, and at first I thought he was just getting a variation of the swollen bruised raccoon look that usually announces he’s coming down with some bug.
A day later, my husband finally suggested it could be poison ivy. This reflects especially pathetically on me because he grew up in a land where stinging nettles were the harshest plant around. I spent my most formative years (from 16 to 25) living in California in places rife with poison oak.
For what it’s worth, I’ve never had poison ivy or poison oak, probably because I’m too timid about leaving the path when I venture into any sort of wilderness. (This includes my own backyard.) Also I never once saw it in North Dakota, my childhood abode, where the harsh winters “keep out the riff-raff” – and while as a child I thought that meant lazy people and hoboes, and as an adult I put a less charitable spin on it, now I realize it maybe just meant all leaves-of-three plants.
So I’m honestly ignorant. Again, for what it’s worth, which is pretty much jack shit when it comes to your kid’s eyes.
I do realize that identification of poison ivy is not rocket science. But first you need to know at least generally where its victim picked it up. I’m fretting it might be lurking along the treeline at the back of our yard.
We’ve been applying cortisone and the swelling has gone down. The Bear’s eyes are fine. I’m still shaky when I think about how he complained about itchy eyes on Friday and I chalked it all up to his playing on the computer for too long.
The one good thing that came from this was a small bearish epiphany. Saturday, when he was truly miserable, he said: “Mama! Someone ought to invent a vaccine for poison ivy. That way it would only hurt once and you wouldn’t be able to get it for ten years.” This from a kid who hates needles more than anything! Okay, that probably just shows how miserable he was. And yet, it’s cool to see my eight-year-old beginning to think in long-term, lesser-evil terms.