Lice. The great equalizer. Or is it?
Lice can happen to anyone, even to an arrogant blogger who thinks she’s hilarious and knows how to “prevent” lice when she’s never actually dealt with the real thing. It’s how we manage the aftermath that varies.
We got It. By It, I mean lice, by we, I mean my kids and me, and by me, I mean ME. I most certainly could’ve lived a humble and happy life filled with compassion for others with nits without experiencing it firsthand. Alas, the universe had different plans, but the despicable experience reminded me how fortunate I am.
I can afford professional lice removal. When I combed the third (or thirtieth?) live louse out of my kids’ heads in my kitchen, my anxiety turned into panic and I couldn’t catch my breath. I googled “professional lice removal” and threw everyone and their bug-infested heads in the car. We spent the next four hours getting deloused by professionals, and the peace of mind was worth every penny. Besides, I don’t need to save for college because my kids are going to be YouTube superstars.
I have a washer and dryer in my home. Lice = ten billion loads of laundry. Every towel, bathroom rug, sheet, blanket, comforter, mattress pad, pillow case, and every item of clothing worn in the previous two-four days had to be washed. Everything that couldn’t be laundered – throw pillows, stuffed animals, hats, etc. – had to go in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes. For the next week, bed linens and towels were washed and stuffed animals were “cooked” multiple times daily. If laundry was an annoyance B.L. (Before Lice), it was the bane of my existence A.L. (After Lice).
I can afford new bed pillows. Until lice strikes your home, you can’t fully understand the desire to throw everything out and start fresh in the witness protection program somewhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I gathered as many 20%-Off Bed Bath & Beyond coupons as I could find and replaced every bed pillow in my house.
I have the luxury of time. Instructions from the professionals were to run the metal comb through everyone’s wet hair every day for one week. To do so, everyone’s hair had to be doused with conditioner. Then, everyone’s hair had to be rinsed. Next, towels had to be washed and dried. Between each “patient,” the comb had to be sterilized in four-parts water/one-part ammonia. Repeat. I didn’t leave my house for several days.
I have perspective. A week later, we were directed to cover our heads in Crisco (a.k.a. vegetable shorting) for six hours to suffocate any remaining eggs that might hatch and then use dish detergent to counteract the grease. Or, we could return to the professionals for follow-up, which entailed two dry and two wet comb treatments for half of the original cost. I thought long and hard about how we would handle having our heads soaked in lard for six hours and chose the latter.
During our follow-up, which was no walk the park because that metal comb was no fucking joke, there was a lot of crying and screaming coming from the room across the hall. I assumed there was a “threenager” or “fournado” in there who was pissed about the unexpected pit stop.
Eventually, the woman combing through our hair apologized for the commotion. I assured her no apology was necessary. I pointed to my boys who took turns giving me the stank face for ruining their afternoon. “I get it.”
She apologized again. “The little girl in there is deaf and has autism.”
I remembered how my boys would sob and shriek during haircuts when they were toddlers. SPD made the simple act of trimming their hair – among other grooming practices – dreadful. All those years ago, dealing with lice would’ve been impossible.
Now, as they got deloused for the second time in a week, they were unhappy but compliant. They knew what to expect and what was expected of them, and they had the skills to cope physically and emotionally. In fact, although they still disliked haircuts, I predicted they would thank me for the next one after this clusterfuck.
Lice is gross. It’s expensive. It’s time-consuming. It’s inconvenient. It’s exhausting. It’s all of these things and more, but mostly, it’s invasive. For the little girl with severe special needs across the hall, it was painful, nightmarish, and traumatic.
We got lice. I’m grateful because as big of a deal as it was, it was no big deal at all.
That said, I’d be eternally thankful if It never happened again.