Well, it had to happen sooner or later I suppose; Littleboy 1 has had a nasty brush with poison ivy.
One morning, we noticed that one side of his face had come up in a red, blistery rash with telltale scratches along it. One of his fingers was also badly affected, and there was a scratch on one leg - but then new blisters started popping up everywhere. Eventually he was dragged to the paediatrician (as that's what you do here - there are GPs, but they won't see kids), and prescribed oral steriods to dampen down the immune response. This felt quite draconian, but the paediatrician says we need to get on top of it, as it's a bad reaction. Meanwhile he's been incredibly brave, and in spite of the rash has behaved as his usual irrepressible self, bouncing around and playing with his beloved grandfather, who has been staying with us.
One of the most annoying things about poison ivy, which I hadn't known, is that the reaction is not instant, like good old British stinging nettles. It takes a few days to develop, so you don't automatically know which plant did the deed.
This is deeply frustrating. Ever since we've been here, I've been aware that there might be poison ivy around. But I've never been entirely sure about the plant. Obviously, I've looked at pictures on the internet, and know that it has three leaves, but there is an awful lot of ivy around here, and many similar-looking plants. Even local people haven't been entirely sure when asked to point it out. I've since found whole websites where people have posted photos of their backyards asking "is this it?"
So, I still don't know where exactly the culprit was (although I have my suspicions). But in a way it's amazing that it hasn't happened before, as Littleboy 1 is always throwing himself in bushes and undergrowth, both deliberately and accidentally. I suppose I'd grown cavalier about it - he never seemed to hurt himself, and so I didn't want playing in bushes to become yet another thing I have to constantly scold him about.
Now it's a different story. "Don't touch that plant," I nagged him as we walked in woods at the weekend. "Don't touch anything with leaves," I shouted as both boys shot off down some winding path. "In fact, don't touch ANYTHING green."
Ah, the joys of nature....