Posted by: Hannah | 01/09/2014

he flicked it and it flew away

When I was a kid, our elementary school  music teacher used to get us to sing a song called Little Peter Rabbit. It goes like this:


Tune: Battle Hymn


Little Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his ear,
Little Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his ear,
Little Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his ear,
And he flicked it till it flew away!



Verse 2 – Don’t sing “Rabbit” – Substitute Action
Verse 3 – Don’t sing “Rabbit” or “Fly” – Substitute Action
Verse 4 – Don’t sing “Rabbit”, “Fly” or “Ear” – Substitute Action


“Rabbit” – Make rabbit ears with hands
“Fly” and “Flew” – Fingers fly away
“Ear” – Point at ear
“Flick” – Flick ear

However, because our elementary school teacher was always a little off (translation: she was batshit crazy and hated children), she taught us that the offending insect was a flea, not a fly.

This is important because this song was running through my head all through Christmas break.

Reason? We had a flea infestation in the big boys’ room.

Altogether now – EWWWWWWWWWWW.

We have a dog and a cat. They are both beasties who go outdoors a lot, especially in the summertime. As a consequence, fleas are a thing and we deal with them. We buy the expensive flea / heartworm / everything else treatment and use it correctly. We monitor the dog – he’s got typical Labrador Retriever skin issues and is our canary in the coal mine – and once he stops showing signs we stop treatment.

This year, the fleas got wise and switched to a new host.

Said host being Harry. And I didn’t realize it until Christmas break, when he ran past me topless on the way to the shower and I honest to god thought his chicken pox vaccine had failed. He was covered in spots, some fresh, some scabbed over. It looked so uncomfortable. I stopped him right away and asked what on earth was going on. “Oh, they’re bug bites,” he said. “Yeah, I’m itchy. I’ve got one on my TOE today” and then he bounced away.


I rounded Harry up and got him to take a soothing baking-soda bath. I hit the internet and started doing research. The next day I bought some flea spray from the local big box pet store, and started in.

I stripped the boys’ beds and got their bedding in hot water and vinegar washes. I completely cleared up and decluttered the boys’ room. Every spare piece of Lego, every scrap of paper, every stub of pencil or unwrapped crayon was accounted for. Then I vacuumed, getting down on my hands and knees to pay special attention to the joint between the baseboards and the floor, and vacuumed the mattresses and pillows, too. I dusted and scrubbed. I opened the window (hey, it’s -15C outside! AWESOME) and sprayed down every surface.

While I was waiting for the room to be kid-safe again, I did the same for the upstairs hallway. And the bathroom. And the dog’s sleeping area, just in case.

Just in case anyone has lost count, this was December 27th. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-LAAAAAOMGSOB.

Since that day, no one has seen a flea. Harry reports no new bites, and the old ones are healing. It’s been enough days now that I’ve stopped reflexively scratching every five minutes.

And this was certainly easier than dealing with, say, lice.

But still – EWWWWW.



  1. Wahhhhhhhhh.

    • That’s pretty much what I said.

  2. Ugh so sorry! My mom still reminds me of the time we had a flea infestation when I was about 3 (41 years ago and the horror is still fresh in her mind). Parasitic bugs can suck it!

    • Pun totally unintended, but I’m leaving it because I crack myself up. Sad.

      • That pun was unintentional?? You’re some kind of pun-genius.

    • You don’t know how comforting it is actually to hear from another person who went through this. Sending your mom a weary fist-bump in solidarity.

  3. Wow, that’s one stoic kid right there. Who would have thought you might need a rule “if you get infested by fleas, please tell a grown up”?

    • It’s so weird, because he’s normally not at all stoic about physical discomfort – not even a little! I don’t know why he didn’t tell us about it… so bizarre.

  4. We went through something similar a few years ago when lice went through my daughter’s school. Every single one of the girls in her class got them, and everyone here at home got them except for me (one of the few advantages of being prematurely bald I guess). We had to buy bottles of special (and expensive) shampoo and wash all the bedding, carpeting, clothes – basically everything made of fabric – in hot water. It was the dead of winter so we couldn’t dry anything outside, and to make matters worse it happened right after the big earthquake – as we were trying to conserve kerosene (which is how most houses are heated here) we were running the air conditioners on warm to help heat the house, but whenever we turned on the dryer and forgot to turn them off the breaker shut off (due to the power shortage at that time). So,on top of dealing with aftershocks every 15 to 20 minutes, worrying about the effects of radiation AND being unsure when food, gasoline and kerosene were going to be readily available again – we were also battling a lice infestation. Good times! 😛

    BTW, up until I read this I had no idea that the song was supposed to be “fly” and not “flea”. Another reason to hate Ms.J, eh? 😉

  5. Oh good LORD. Is there no END to the trials of parenthood?

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