Fleas on Holiday

by Bec C

Holidaying is not something we do very well. It’s certainly not something we do often together. If I need a break, I’ll head down to Sydney with the boys to see family and friends, leaving ‘Dougal’ at home to keep his head to the grindstone. Because when you’re self-employed, as we are, it’s hard not to feel guilty taking time off – so I simply take it off without him! But as a neighbour keeps telling us ‘Sometimes, you’ve got to go away, to appreciate coming home’. So, what with our water debacle (see earlier post ‘Water Works’), off we all went. After all, everyone needs quality family time.

But here’s another quote from a well-meaning friend – ‘It’s best not to expect too much when you go on holiday with kids, because it will inevitably not live up to expectations. Expect the worst, and then you will only be pleasantly surprised!’ Some may think this is a terribly pathetic way to approach a holiday, however – sadly – I have generally found it to be true. As I result, I braced myself. Things began as expected – just before leaving, I realised I had misplaced a rather large amount of cash, Dougal spent the morning in mud fixing electric fences around newly laid water tank pipes, and we forgot to make room for the dog in the car, who had to end up taking my luxurious seat up front after baby Heath made a grab for his ear and pulled, pulled, pulled. I consequently spent 2 ½ hrs in the back, squashed between 2 baby seats, reminiscing about roomier times.

And wouldn’t you know it, we all had a great time! Six days of just us with the boys, Jack the dog, a fantastic house, an incredible view, a quiet coastal community, and parks, rocks, kites, fish, beaches and sparkling weather. If we had been seeing a family counsellor, it would have been just what they would have prescribed.

But nothing takes away that wonderful beach holiday aura like when you walk back into your home in the early evening after a long drive, two children crying for dinner, and find your legs covered with fleas.

I knew it – something had had to give.

This is the risk you take when you treat your dog like your first-born. 8 years ago, he made a very strong case for having the run of the house after he jumped commando-style through the window screen trying to escape the oncoming cold of his first winter. As a result he is in and out all the time, bringing in unwanted hair and smells and, in this summer’s humidity, fleas. We had only flea bombed 3 months before after being away for Christmas, and I have been waging a war against them ever since, vacuuming frequently, mopping the floor with kerosene (nothing like a few vapours to clear the sinus), washing the poor dog over, and over, and over again (it’s a wonder he has any hair left).

But all to no avail. One week away, and they were back. In droves. ‘Get out! GET OUT!’ I found myself screaming like a wild banshee to my 3yr old, who was curiously entering the house after hearing my fury.

And so it was that we found ourselves yet again sent away from our house – this time, only 30 metres away to the studio, where I listened instead to the mice scuttling around in the roof in the darkness, while the flea bombs released fumes throughout the house below that are toxic for every other insect except, it seems in the long-term, fleas.

This is a sad and sorry tale, wherein there is no happy ending. My battle with fleas continues. I am developing a worrying tick in one eye, whilst going the motions of washing and mopping in my sleep.

Needless to say – Jack the Dog is back in the house, scratching away. Added to this is the fact that the cash I lost prior to the holiday remains hidden from our attempts to find it. If only it had taken the fleas with it.

So the lesson is… hmmm, does there have to be a lesson, I ask myself? After all, I adore having Jack the dog at our feet in the evening, we all had a great holiday away, so no! There is NO LESSON! How liberating! Because apart from wishing I knew where I had put that money (sleepness nights with 3 yr olds and 6 month olds will do that to a brain… sometimes I wonder why I even bother going to bed at all), I wouldn’t do anything differently.

So come out, you misplaced, irritating, itchy, black jumping dot. I am waiting for you.

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck’d me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.

(excerpt from The Flea, by John Donne, 1896)


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About Bec C

I made the tree-change move from Sydney to my husband 'Dougal's' old family property on the mid-north coast several years ago, but only since the birth of my first son have I really lived here. In between raising 2 young sons, I am trying my hand at sustainable farm management... 'Trying' being the important word. Whilst the ability to pat my steers gives me much satisfaction, I love the fact that every morning I awake to space and open sky... even if it is 5am.

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