I don’t generally take requests for writing topics, but an old friend reached out for some practical advice on how to handle lice, or more precisely, the threat of lice, which I will now refer to as “It” because there was once a time when the mere mention of pinkeye would cause puss to ooze from my children’s eyes. I don’t want to provoke the universe any more than necessary, and my head is already feeling itchy.
I’ve never written about It before except probably to inform you that I’m as afraid of It as I am death by great white shark. I had It as a child. I remember the experience well because my mom let me say swear words while she ran that fucking metal comb through my fucking hair for fucking ever. It fucking hurt!
Before we proceed, I feel it’s my duty to admit that It has never infested my children’s heads. My children have also never had the stomach flu, a fever over 101, or a broken bone. Now that I’ve put all of this in writing, I’m pretty much a sitting duck, so I hope you can appreciate my level of commitment to this blog, my faithful readers, and old friends. That, and my stupidity.
Let’s do this before lightning strikes my house. It goes without saying that remaining childless is the best way to prevent It. If, however, you’ve taken the parenting plunge and you find a letter in your child’s backpack informing you that It has been detected at school, here’s what you should do.
- Feign ignorance. Burn the letter and pretend It isn’t happening. Like climate change, Donald Trump running for president, and inappropriately sexy Halloween costumes for young girls.
- Remain calm. Alternatively, panic. Personally, I’m a panicker. It’s my schtick.
- Pour a glass of wine. Leave the bottle out. Actually, get a straw (also my schtick).
- Check online to see if you live in one of the 25 states where It has built up a resistance to common over-the-counter treatments. If you live in one of those doomed states, call a realtor immediately. I hear Michigan is lovely in the winter!
- If moving isn’t an option, consider homeschooling.
- If the thought of teaching your kid common core long division at the kitchen table makes you want It instead, go back to #3 and then skip ahead to #8.
- If you’re fortunate enough to reside in one of the 25 states where over-the-counter treatments are still effective, don’t get cocky. (Sh)It still happens.
- Call your spouse and insist that he leaves work right away. Someone in the house needs to be sober and available for a wine run. If you’re on your own, make sure a neighbor or friend is on call.
- Scream into a pillow and then wash every sheet in the house.
- Keep your kid’s hair dirty. In fact, keep him dirty all over. You’ll be amazed how much free time you’ll have to panic, drink wine, scream into a pillow, and fold freshly washed fitted sheets when you don’t have to give your kid a bath.
- If you’re the kind of mom who’s a stickler for personal hygiene and routine (whatevs), keep the bath, but skip the shampoo and load your kid’s head with hair styling products in the morning before school. There are also many over-the-counter preventative sprays (conventional and organic) with ingredients like rosemary, mint, and tee tree oil that supposedly help keep It away.
- If your kid’s hair is long, put it up, for fuck sake! Tell her to keep that ponytail or braid intact all day or you’ll cut it off. This is not a drill!
- Tell your kid not to touch any other kids’ heads, clothes, jackets, shoes, hats, lunch boxes, or backpacks or you’ll cut his hands off. I repeat, this is not a drill!
- Don’t let your kid wear a hat to school for “protection.” It’s a rookie mistake that will inevitably result in It happening because if you think that hat won’t end up on other heads during the course of the school day, you must be drunk, which could be my fault.
- Call your mom, mother-in-law, or that college friend with whom you’ve lost touch. Karma is a bitch and you need all the positive energy you can muster right now.
- Mix together in a blender: 6 strawberries, 1 oz. heavy cream, 4 oz. skim milk, and 1 ½ oz. Belvedere Black Raspberry Vodka. Lather the concoction in your kid’s hair before bed. Kidding! Drink it!
- It doesn’t like oil, so dump a jar of mayonnaise on your kid’s head and leave it on overnight under a shower cap (good luck with that!). Or, make yourself a turkey and mayo sandwich because if you’ve been following my advice, you’ve been drinking heavily on an empty stomach.
- It doesn’t like extreme hot or cold temperatures, so keep all brushes, combs, and hair accessories in a sealed bag in the freezer. Better yet, keep your kid in the freezer. If your freezer is small like mine, you’ll probably need to make room, but do not under any circumstance sacrifice the ice cream or vodka.
- Contact your bank or financial advisor. If It happens, you’ll need to take out a second mortgage on your house to afford the – gulp – lice removal professional who will restore cleanliness and sanity to your home.
- Pray. I’m not a religious person, but if ever there was a time, this is it.
p.s. This blog post will self-destruct in 30 seconds. In other words, this conversation never happened.