The Tick

The Tick

Sadye 1996 August 1997

Perhaps it was a tick lodged in her skin; that tiny black spot on the left side of her neck. Perhaps it was only the crust on a healing skin wound. It’s hard to spot that devilish insect unless you inspect carefully. You get ticks playing in the woods and that’s what Sadye does. Play in the woods. A forest of trees and undergrowth surround us on all sides. Sadye is five years old. I’m her dad. At breakfast her mother noticed the dark fleck.

Sadye doesn’t want her mother poking around the skin of her neck. She runs away. She won’t hold still. She screams. It mounts into a tantrum ending in uncontrollable sobs. She is being violated. She has been unjustly accused of harboring ticks.

Her mother is distraught and anguished. She knows that if you don’t remove a tick within hours it can cause serious illness. Lyme disease. She pleads with her little girl. She only wants to look at it. She promises not to touch. Looking won’t hurt.

The rock of logic is too heavy a burden to bear. Sadye collapses into sobbing hysteria resisting this new attack with even greater determination. Her mother gives up. She retreats. Out of Sadye’s earshot she confides to me that she will inspect it at night while Sadye is asleep.

Later, I drive Sadye to her play school. She is in a happy mood. I say to her: “Tell me what you would do. You are in the middle of the street. A car is coming toward you. Would you run out of its path? Or would you stand there and cry because the car will hit you?”

“I’d run away,” is her response, enthusiastic about playing a game of questions and answers.

“Well,” I say, shamelessly exploiting her exuberance, “you get out of the way because the car can hurt you. You might be so badly hurt that you couldn’t run and play anymore. A tick can hurt you also. It can put you in the hospital as surely as a car can. You should get out of its way,” said I, pontificating mightily. “Let us remove the tick if it’s there. Crying won’t make it go away,”

“Dad”, interrupts Sadye, “when a car crashes the tow truck comes to take it away.” …

How weak mere reason is against the mightiness of drama.

Later that day I picked Sadye up from play school. In the car, after reporting on her time at play, Sadye says, “The tick is gone, Dad. I washed it off myself. With a wet tissue.”