Monday, May 20, 2024

Horseflies at the pool

This morning I finally finished reading the kids our last out-loud book for the school year (not that I will stop reading to them altogether; in fact I just read to them for a half hour before bed...but this is our last out-loud read-together school book for the school year). We read An Impossible Thing to Say by Arya Shahi, which I was initially drawn to because it's about Iranian diaspora. My brother Patrick is dating a girl from Iran and so I think it's good for us to be learning a bit about Iranian history and so forth (we recently read Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri out loud at bedtime and had Benjamin read Dairus the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram and I recommended The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi to Uncle Patrick as well while he was here...but I'm also kind of wondering where the female-centered stories are for contemporary CYAL so I'll have to do some research to see what I can find). 

Anyway, the book also got bonus points for being a novel in verse. Shahi is a rapper, himself, so poetry would be a natural avenue for a book, I suppose. And my kids really appreciated the rap verses he included—lots of fun rhythms and rhymes. 

And I loved how the end of the story didn't resolve everything. The grown ups were left to make their own messy choices while Omid learns to be comfortable with his emerging identity as a thespian and rapper and Farsi-speaker and so forth, understanding that life will just...continue being messy while also being okay. Mess is...normal. It was lovely. 

I didn't really know much about it before we started reading it. I just saw it pop up on some list somewhere and immediately put it on hold at the library and then forgot about it until it came in...and then selected it to read out loud to the kids because it was on my own personal list of books to read. 

It ended up fitting just perfectly into our year because we spent the year reading Shakespeare and the last play we read was A Midsummer Night's Dream. In An Impossible Thing to Say, Omid's school is putting on An Impossible Thing to Say we got all the Shakespeare references in the story. 

It was great!

Anyway, Phoebe was a bit of a...handful...while we were reading this morning. And she remained that way throughout the day. She wasn't really ever naughty just...loud and full of energy and exhibiting fierce independence.

For example, here she is sitting on the stairs slathering herself in sunscreen:

When I caught her I asked her what she was doing and she said, "Me wanna go pool! Getting on my nun-keem, just tryin’a do it and rubbing it in…" and then she started singing, "Rubbing in my nun-keem! Rubbing in my nun-keem!"

So what else could we do but go to the pool? Unfortunately, our stay at the pool was rather short-lived because we were plagued by horseflies.

Poor Alexander had a horsefly land on his leg while he was standing by the deep end judging a diving contest. He started screaming and howling. And then Benjamin and Zoë checked on him and started yelling to me that he had been stung by a bee, which is not such a big deal. But he was crying and carrying on so, so I pulled Phoebe out of the water and ran over to him, where I found a horsefly on him, rather than a bee.

I took of my hat and shooed it away and then started taking care of his wound.

But darn it, if that horsefly didn't just follow us! 

I asked Zoë and Benjamin to wave towels at it, kind of keeping guard while I helped Alexander. And seemed to have gone we got back into the pool.

And I told the kids that we had a terrible horsefly problem at our neighbourhood pool in Durham late every summer and that we learned to just duck under the water to force the flies to fly away.

But horseflies are nothing if not tenacious!

They just keep coming back, and this one was no different. It specifically kept coming back to Alexander. So he was yelping in pain every so often as the fly would probe his scalp. 

And Zoë was screaming just about nonstop. So Phoebe was upset and crying. 

It was all pretty messy. But I wasn't going to give up one of our very last quiet days at the pool just because of one pesky fly (public schools release on Wednesday). So told Zoë that she was in charge of Phoebe for a bit while Benjamin and I hunted down the that no one ended up with a broken finger (because once I broke my finger while hunting down a horsefly (I mean, I got 'im...but was it worth it? (this specific blog post I linked to says I merely "jammed" my finger but, uh, trust was beyond jammed...that finger ended up giving me a few years of grief))). 

Story time: My niece Rosie's jaw was incredibly painful after she had Oaklyn. She could hardly open her mouth to bite or chew. She was just miserable. And then one day Austin, her husband, was like, "Oh, yeah! I'm a dentist!" and he examined her and was like, "Your jaw is out of joint. Let me just fix that for you." And he fixed it and she was like, "Wow. I just was suffering for three months because...who would have guessed that I threw out my jaw while giving birth!"

So, my finger has not been normal since I broke it, but it's been okay. And then in the early fall last year I did something funny to that finger again (I can't remember what) and it started hurting again. Really quite badly. I could hardly type or play the ukulele...and I was trying to finish up my thesis and was teaching ukulele at our co-op. I could hardly move my finger at all.

It wasn't great. 

And then I was putting away dishes and I dropped a cup, so with my cat-like reflexes, I swooped my hand down to grab the cup and completely missed (it was a plastic cup, so it's fine), and instead jammed my stupid finger into the counter.

Boy, howdy! Did that ever hurt!!

I cried a little bit because...ouch...but then soon realized that the pain was going away and...

I could move my finger again. 

And it's been fine ever since. 

So I guess my finger was out of joint or something as well. 

And...maybe that's why people go to doctors and stuff?? 

Anyway, I didn't want anyone chasing this horsefly with so much panache that they break a finger, so we were hunting the horsefly carefully while Zoë held Phoebe. 

Just as I was trying to lure Alexander—with that darn horsefly on his head once again—to come closer to me so I could smack it with a towel (never mind that the horsefly was on his head; I'm sure he would have been fine—one towel-whack on the head is better than several horsefly bites...maybe?) the horsefly flew away...right towards Zoë (from Zoë's perspective). So Zoë jumped into the pool—with Phoebe—to hide—underwater—from this horsefly because she'd remembered how I had told the kids how we'd dealt with horseflies in North Carolina. 

The only problem is that Phoebe is two! She has only ever dipped her head under the water before. 

Just as I was ready to jump in and haul them both up to the surface, they came up on their own (I'm sure it was briefer than it felt because sometimes I get melodramatic about my babies sometimes—like that time Alexander and Andrew fell off that "cliff" at was only a 6 foot drop but I felt like my heart was falling to the center of the earth). 


"I forgot I had Phoebe!" Zoë also panicked. 

But Phoebe held her breath just fine and has been talking about how they were "hiding" under the water without a trace of terror in her voice. So all's well that ends well, I guess. 

We left after that because Zoë couldn't stop crying and I didn't feel like I could leave Phoebe unattended while I chased a fly and Alexander was pretty keen on getting home we left. 

But we'll be back. We'll probably bring a fly swatter with us though.

I don't have any pictures of the pool...but here's a couple of pictures of the kids playing at Darla's pool on Saturday afternoon:

This pool has a lovely wading pool for the little kids, with fountains and things. They had a lot of fun!


  1. I did not know that Darla has a pool! Perk!!

    1. It's a neighbourhood pool (just to clarify), but still nice!