Quarantine. Now there's a word that conjures up some images.

I think of monkeys with cooties and Gwyneth Paltrow dying really early (yay!) in a movie.

Thankfully in our case, when the doctor said "quarantine," things weren't that serious - just a little itchy. One member of our family - his new nickname, Spot - had chickenpox.

Yes, parents, here is the public service announcement of the day, brought to you at our expense: Even if your kids have been immunized, they can still get chickenpox.

News to me. I thought the virus had been completely wiped out.

Back when I was a kid, everyone got chickenpox. In fact, once that itchy, ugly virus reared its spots, parents tried really hard to get the whole clan infected. I am pretty sure my mom had me lick my brother just so the annoying pox business would be over and done at the same time.

I remember that misery like it was yesterday.

I missed the last days of first grade because Matt Lasky gave me chickenpox. Those darn things - which even found their way inside my ears - drove me crazy they itched sooooo much. I never changed out of jammies and any exposed skin was tinted chalky pink from a liberal slathering of Calamine lotion. My mom even put socks on my hands, so I wouldn't scratch and scar myself.

Good times, good times.

Never in a thousand years did I think chickenpox was behind those pimply-looking things that kept erupting all over Spot, the kid formerly known as No. 3.

"These bug bites are so itchy!" Spot complained, shortly after he got up one morning. An angry cluster of red dotted his stomach.

My husband and I immediately put on our badges - it was time for BBSI, Bug-Bite Scene Investigation.

He was just at a sleepover. ... Could it be bedbugs? We sprang into action (read: panicked).

I Googled.

His mattress got tossed. I sanitized clothes and bedding and dragged his hamper and sleeping bag outside to bake in the sun. Heck, I even vacuumed. Twice.

Next morning, more bites. I treated the dogs for fleas.

Then, he came home from school with still more. That's when we sucked it up, called in the Big Gun and forked over a co-pay. The pediatrician broke the news that, yes, we threw out that mattress prematurely.

Worse, I vacuumed for nothing.

To show how the times have changed, the pox - probably thanks to the vaccine - aren't anywhere near as ugly or as itchy. Plus, Spot had the Wii to entertain himself. Back when I had 'em, Atari hadn't even been invented yet.

But best of all? Calamine lotion now comes clear.

Contact Kristen Cook at kcook@azstarnet.com or 573-4194. If Cook had a business card for her parenting gig, it would read "Persona Mom Grata."