It’s basically a foregone conclusion that when your kids are a certain age, they’re going to pick up all kinds of stuff should you venture outside your house. Sometimes it’s pocket rocks. Sometimes it’s knee snails.
Yes. Knee snails. Well, technically a sea snail in the knee.
There are plenty of souvenirs kids could potentially get from the beach. Some, like a perfect sand dollar, will serve as a fond memory of a wonderful holiday; others, like a pocketful of sand and rocks, will make you wonder when the scavenger phase ends. Still others, like a sea snail that lives in a festering pocket of pus on your child’s knee, will provide you with all the nightmare fuel you could ever need.
It sounds far-fetched, but that’s exactly what happened to one mom, Rachael Franklin, when she and her son Paul returned from a quick jaunt to a nearby beach in Orange County, California. Franklin told her story on an episode of Monsters Inside Me, and wow, is it nasty.
Seven-year-old Paul scratched his knee at the beach, and instead of healing, the wound swelled to the “size of a large orange.” Of course Franklin took her son to the doctor, and the doctor told her to not pop the pustule because it might be MRSA, a particularly nasty and virulent “superbug” that’s resistant to certain types of antibiotics and can cause deadly staph infections. But when the bump turned black, Franklin decided nuts to that noise and popped it anyway, only to discover an adorable little sea snail just hanging out, chill as you please in her son’s knee lump.
Kids are gross, and that’s a fact. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that kids are gross-thing magnets. They’ll stick things in their ears, their mouth, up their nose. They manage to get snot in their hair and banana in their elbow creases and, for about a decade, carry all kinds of germs and diseases that would fell full-grown elephants but barely faze them. But there is a chasm’s worth of distance between a child contracting some ringworm from a cat poop-laden sandbox or poking dead frogs with sticks and having a sea creature living in their knee.
You have got to give this mom the kudos she deserves for having the bravery and steel-forged gag reflex required to dig a pus-covered snail out of her son’s knee knob and then laugh about it. That takes a serious sense of humor.
And you’d probably be wise to take this little story as a reminder to wash out your kids’ cuts before slapping a Band-Aid on them next time. Usually just mild soap and water is enough to dislodge any rocks — or sea snails — they might pick up in a scrape from falling down. It’s not fun when they’re kicking and screaming that it hurts soooo bad, but it could prevent them from walking around with a creepy crawler living inside their knee!
Paul, for his part, thinks that having a snail just hanging out under his dermis is “cool,” because of course he does — he’s 7. Of course, he might change his mind after hearing the “What Are Little Boys Made Of?” poem over and over again for the rest of his life from corny uncles who think they’re a riot.