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A Pox on Their Houses

I’ve got a small, round scar on my right arm. It’s part of a matching set; its counterpart is on my left arm in nearly the same spot. They’re a result of my own failure to follow instructions.

Don’t scratch.

Chicken pox swept through my 2nd grade like the Angel of Death. At one point, every student was stuck at home, watching The Price Is Right and smearing themselves with calamine lotion.

Now, my Grace has legendary skin issues. First off is the eczema. We’ve pretty much got it under control now, but one could have described her first year of life as “crusty.” We smeared all sorts of ointments and remedies on her brittle little body. Whenever we heard someone say, “…as soft as a baby’s bottom” we’d think, “they haven’t seen this baby.”

It still flares up today, but it’s mild compared to how it’s been. These sudden bursts are unpredictable as far as we’ve been able to determine.

The other issue is the peanut allergy. When Grace was young, we introduced one new food item at a time as her doctor instructed, mostly because we were nervous new parents who did whatever the pediatrician asked. One night at dinner, we smeared a lump of peanut butter on her plate, which she squished between her fingers, in her hair and eventually in her mouth (when I think of that scene today, I shudder. It’s as if we gave her a grenade to play with).

A few hours later we could hear her crying from her bed. I went upstairs and lifted her. “What’s wrong, honey?”

She was as red as lobster. A quick phone call led to a trip the drug store and eventually to the allergist to confirmed what we imagined – a life-long sentence to the peanut-free table in the cafeteria.

So, when she returned from a birthday party this past Saturday with tiny splotches on her back and arms, we thought, “Oh, boy. Here goes Grace’s whacky skin. It must be that new sunscreen. Or the sun itself. Or … who knows.”

This morning, the splotches hadn’t disappeared, despite the application of the usual lotions and potions. So my wife brought her in for a check up. Then I received the phone call.

“Chicken pox,” she said. “Fire up The Price Is Right.”

The good news is she’s kind of used to itchy skin, school is out for the summer and her mom and I are free to coddle her.

Just one thing, Gracie: Don’t scratch.

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