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Surrendering to Motherhood

Jennifer Huffman's Surrendering to Motherhood: A real flea circus

We have a “little” flea problem.

Over the past six to eight weeks the fleas have been trying to gain ground in the Huffman house, while we humans are attempting to hold them off.

So far, the fleas are sticking to Penny the dog and Inky the cat. Mostly. Every now and then I’ll spot a flea on a human. Like myself.


I’m not the only one. While the Youngest Huffman was home for the summer, she became our number one flea spotter seeing as she had many more free hours for daytime lounging on the couch.

PENNY has FLEAS, she announced one day.

She even claimed to have been bitten by “Penny’s” fleas.

She showed me various red spots on her ankle or leg.

Hmmmmm, I’d say sympathetically while wondering to myself if it really was a flea bite. Maybe it was a harmless spider bite? A mosquito bite? I mean, it *is* summer. Let’s not blame every itchy spot on the mostly harmless household flea. No need to create scapegoats.

I mean “A Bug’s Life” was one of our favorite family movies from when the girls were growing up. There was Flik, and Dot and Hopper … and PT Flea. He was the lovable, if impatient, ringmaster of the circus troupe best known for its signature Flaming Death act. Ahhhh, memories.

To address our current fleamergency, I started with that kind of flea medicine that you squirt onto the back of the neck of dogs and cats.

“Kills fleas within 24 hours,” the box reads.

Yoo-hoooo, fleas, I called out. Come out, come out wherever you are. Come nibble your way up towards this fluffy, warm neck. We have a little surrrrrprisssse for you ... heh heh heh.

Surely that’ll get ‘em, I figured.

Not exactly. The fleas must have heard this tune before because apparently they promptly dove into the pop-up anti-flea medicine hazmat suits that all fleas seem to carry. 

Spoiler alert: the fleas didn’t die.

About a month later, our daughter reported additional flea sightings.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. Penny had been seen scratching away. The cat too.

Harumph. I got out the flea medicines again. Another squirt for each pet on the back of their necks.

OK fleas, this is it. I mean business. Let this be your official eviction notice: You need to move on. There is a dog that lives with the family next door. I can introduce you two.

About a week later, I inspected Penny’s belly and I SAW THEM. One little black flea here. One there. Oooh, no you don’t. I grabbed at the flea, chasing it through Penny’s brown fur.

Penny was not into this new pinching game. She wriggled away.

I started putting the couch blankets into the dryer almost every night. Die, fleas, die, I said, turning on the 70 minute “high heat” cycle.

The flea fight continues.

We’re on to month three of the neck medicine.

I’m still trying to get Penny to let me groom her for fleas. It reminds me of the time that the girls got lice from their cousin. During that episode, I actually became a very good lice picker. I have good attention to detail and I like squishing tiny homewreckers.

Plus, I still have a secret backup plan.


Students at Napa Christian school in Napa spend every weekday morning taking care of farm animals and an extensive garden. The farm includes more than a dozen animals such as miniature horses, pigs, chickens and a bunny or two.

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Surrendering to Motherhood appears every other Monday. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @NVRHuffman.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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