Two weeks ago, my guts a complete mess because a diet I was trying out to fix my guts that were a complete mess had blocked me up for days, I walked into a local pharmacy and asked for an enema kit. “A what?” the woman behind the counter asked, “AN ENEMA KIT” I enunciated clearly, and loudly; determined not to be cowed by centuries of social norms. And I took it home and relieved myself of the filled-to-bursting sensation that I’d been walking around with for, well, just too long.
Today I walked into the same chemist and tried to quickly glance around at the shelves to see if they had what I was looking for. Hoping, concurrently, that they’d magically have those self-checkout things too so I had no need to converse with anyone. No such luck. “Worm tablets.” I said to the woman behind the counter and she nodded knowingly, the way people do when you ask for pregnancy tests, or haemorrhoid cream. (Not that I’d know). And I got to choose between orange flavoured or chocolate flavoured and chewable or swallowable and “forchrissakewomanjustgivemefourofthefuckersandlemmegetouttahere.” I did wonder as she asked me for my loyalty card if I was a bit dense to have handed over this card on my last two visits whilst still hoping that they weren’t keeping track of what I was buying. Naïve, is what I’d call myself in that moment. Naïve, and desperate – for the $10 voucher that I’ll get once I’ve spent $792.48. And wondering just what their marketing department would dream up as a lure to get me in. A special on Aloe Juice! Or two for one Immodium, special offer to our loyal customers who clearly have arse-area issues!
I was in there buying worming tablets because one of my children told me their butt was itchy and I casually thought they hadn’t wiped properly and told them I’d meet them in the bathroom with a wet cloth and then when I was down there about to wipe, “Holy Fuck it’s a worm!” and in my excitement, which matched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s gay hunt for slugs in his lettuce patch, I grabbed it, squeezed the little fucker, felt the satisfying “pop” as it’s insides were forced beyond their natural bounds, and quickly moved to the basin where I thoroughly washed my hands. “What did it look like?” my child asked, curious about the livestock they’d been harbouring, “Oh sorry honey, next time I’ll let you see it.”
A large part of me was grateful for the very clear explanation for the very-fucking-awful behaviour I’d been dealing with for the past week. The irritation that my child felt in that moment at anus-level had been with our family on an emotional level for a lot longer. Pain in the arse is an apt expression.
A small part of me whined like a small child that this was not a life I’d ever imagined for myself. That in my hopes and aspirations, on preparing my wedding vows, on studying the two lines on the pregnancy test, neither peering into arses nor coaxing shit out of them featured. At all. In my pre-motherhood days my ideas of my children were clean, and orderly, and, well, quiet. They were a long way from the feral-like reality of my today.
But, then I remembered having my own arse-cheeks spread as a child, by my mother, who, having no hands left to hold the torch would get me to hold it between my feet, and yell at me if it slipped and it fell, robbing her of the moment of worm-hunting triumph. This was, of course, before the time of head torches for the non-mountaineer. I remember the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall excitement flash across her face as I mentioned that I thought I had worms. The thrill of the hunt, coupled probably with the satisfaction of having an excuse for my own eight-year-old-self’s pain in the arse behaviour.
And we weren’t that feral, I thought to myself. My siblings and I were much closer to the middle of the spectrum than my children are, so maybe my mothering skills are not to blame for this infestation. Maybe it’s just weak genes. Could I blame my husband’s genes perhaps? My husband claims he’d never even heard of worms before moving to NZ and gets a certain upper-lip-curling look of disgust on his face whenever we are forced to discuss them. If there are genes to be blamed, I am sure they are mine.
Tonight, after administering the worm tablets, which my poor deprived children approached with a level of excitement usually accompanying chocolate, I felt an itch behind one ear. That would just be the fucking Parenting Trifecta now, wouldn’t it? I thought. So I went and tried to manoeuvre two mirrors so that if I stood at a certain angle I could see behind my ear to check for nits, but my mirrors were too dirty to see with that level of distinction, and I can’t be arsed cleaning them. So I just had a wee panicky scratch and moved on.