Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The mosquito clap

Owen’s most recent sign is one I taught him by accident. Granted, it’s not official ASL, or even a suggested baby sign – but every time I say the word mosquito I can count on Owen to clap his hands together once. Now Owen is currently an addicted hand clapper – he claps for himself every other step he takes as he walks, and he claps again when he plops back down on his bottom, and he claps at the end of any song we happen to have in the CD player. But the mosquito clap is distinctively different – a ruthless swipe, once and you’re done.

I wish it were that easy when I go mosquito hunting in our car – which is lately happening all too often. Our neighborhood around Lakebottom Park, with its mature trees (including magnolias whose leaves are large enough to hold tiny pools of water that mosquitoes can hatch in) is a mosquito mecca.

So anytime we plan to emerge from our house without dousing ourselves with repellent we have to make a mad dash for shelter – usually the car, which will then take us to a less mosquito-dense corner of town. (I admit that we are not generally driving in order to escape the mosquitoes, but somehow they do seem better wherever we happen to be going.) In any case, these dashes to the car often prove futile. About once a day this time of year, a mosquito sneaks in along with us. So before I begin driving I wind up climbing in the back seat for some mosquito hunting (since the mosquitoes tend to enjoy hovering around my sweet, helpless children). Will has eyes for mosquitoes, so he often points the pests out to me so I can prepare my ruthless hand clap (move too quickly and you fail every time).

And now all it takes is the word “mosquito,” for a wide-eyed Owen to launch his own fierce clap. I wonder if he’s ever even seen a mosquito – or if he is just fascinated by the word because it’s the only thing out of my mouth that means I’m likely to come into the backseat and start clapping madly at thin air.

For those of you who are also cursed with mosquitoes I found (after some research a couple years ago) that Repel Lemon Eucalyptus is a fairly effective, deet-free mosquito repellent. It’s got a strong smell, but Will’s worn it plenty in our backyard. We’ve also tried spraying Listerine on our deck when we’re hanging out there and it seemed like it worked, but this may have just been the placebo effect working on us, according to this snopes.com investigation of the rumor (which does acknowledge that it might help a tad).

What mosquito-repelling tricks work for you?


Bill said...

Come on, Annie. Every parent should know that, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." You're obviously doing something right w/Evan. -- A friend

Bill said...

Excuse me ... with Owen. Mind not awake yet. -b