Category Archives: rite of passage

Of lice and curls

There are some things that are considered “rites of passage” when raising kids. For example, the other day I sent the kids to play in the basement and my son came upstairs with full make-up on because his older sister decided to “style” him.

This is not uncommon and a lot of friends say they have experienced similar scenarios. In fact, I remember doing this to at least one of my brothers and according to my mother-in-law my sister-in-law did to my husband. Sorry babe- if anyone doubts your manhood I refer them to: husbands, the cars they drive and the balls they carry.

A few weeks ago, I encountered a new “rite of passage” as a parent:

My daughter came home with lice.

Similar to a tragedy, I dealt with it in four distinct stages:

1. Denial:
There must be a reason she’s scratching her head so much. Maybe the heat? She’s sweating? Maybe she has a rash? Dandruff?

2. Anger:
Seriously? Lice!? Who gave her lice? I need a name and I will hunt them down with a fine toothed comb!

3. Depression:
Why? Why? Why do these things always happen to me?

4. Acceptance:
Google: “my child has lice” and learn all there is to know about the subject. (gotta love webMD). Then I go to the drugstore for shampoo and sprays and a special comb and get to work.

5. Itching:
Can anyone ever utter the word lice and not immediately start to itch all over? Pavlov’s bell had nothing on the word “lice” (and people say I never use my Psychology degree!)

So I put all the stuffed animals and throw pillows in plastic bags and put them away. (Lice cannot survive more than 24 hours away from the human scalp). I vacuumed everything, twice, and was prepared for the daily laundry of her sheets, clothes and towels.

But all this was, of-course, nothing compared to the main task at hand: To kill the lice.

The instructions were simple. All I had to do was put the lotion in her hair and then comb through to get rid of all those itchy bugs. Simple enough.

Armed with a fine toothed comb I was ready for the challenge:

“It’s on you bi*&es! I am taking you down!”

For two nights both the girl and I spent over an hour in her bathroom combing through her long curly hair. By day three I thought we were done.

I called her school to inform them of our infestation and they suggested that I bring her in. They would check her and if she was clear she could stay. She was not. They found a nit in her hair and sent us away.

Talk about the walk of shame!

So I then cycled through the stages of anger and depression again which were now followed by desperation: “this will never end! We will all get it and we will be the lice family: friendless and itchy.”

But then someone reminded me that I now live in America: The land of outsourcing (and the free of-course). Cue the music…

The land that invented dog-walkers, house-sitters, life-coaches and most importantly lice salons! God bless America. (I hope non-American readers can see the sarcasm here and American ones don’t see too much of it.)

The one near us is appropriately called Nit-pickers. At $90 per hour it was by no means cheap but it was so worth it. They just combed through her hair over and over again until they got rid of every louse and every nit that was hiding in there.

The professional nit-picker said that it was just a mild infestation and if I combed through her hair for another three days she should be lice and nit free. And she was. (Professional nit-picker …. So many possible jokes… so little time/limited word-count …for years I’ve just been an amateur nit-picker?)

Thankfully no-one else in the family got infested and we can now look back at it (and not laugh or even smile of-course) as a rite of passage.

But because this is not one I want to experience again I will be dipping my kids in tea tree oil before they go to school for the rest of their lives. (tip: lice don’t like the smell)

Now my head itches.