Eww! That’s all I’ve been saying all month. Eww! Until a month ago I had no idea that a tiny little bug could cause so much pain and suffering. Then I got that horrible phone call from school. My head starts to itch just thinking about this.
My son—he has less than three inches of hair; hadn’t had a sleepover in ages; barely brushes his own hair, let alone shares a hairbrush; does swim team three times a week; and takes such long showers that he may single-handedly be responsible for the drought in California-had somehow contracted lice.
I got the message while I was sitting in a drive-through car wash, picking up the voicemail that his school health clerk had left almost five hours earlier. I knew my husband hadn’t picked up Koss from school because he was on his way out of town for his infamous annual “caveman weekend.”
My mother-in-law was scheduled to pick up Koss from school about two hours earlier, but I hadn’t heard anything from her. I frantically dialed her number as-I kid you not-I watched two gigantic circular brushes come to a screeching halt on my windshield. I rolled down my window and a foamy pink ashy substance started coming inside my car. It smelled like a sweaty blend of smoke, strawberries and stress. Eww!
“It’s a power outage,” yelled a guy from one of the 13 cars in line behind me. Who knew that I’d be in the middle of a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode when I got the lice call? The realization that I was stuck in the car wash hit me just as I got my mother-in-law on the phone.
“We’re fine. Koss had been waiting in the office for a few hours when I got to school. They said that he has lice,” she said in her always-cheery voice. This nice reassurance from a woman who didn’t tell any of her adult children she was even in the hospital until a few days after she had hip replacement surgery was, frankly, not all that reassuring.
Neither was waiting for all of the cars behind me to back up before I could do a less-than-graceful 67-point turn to get my now golden-pinkish boat of a Mercury Marquis out of the car wash.
A quick stop at the drug store to pick up lice shampoo made my head hurt even more. Product names like Pronto, RID, LiceMD and Nix shouted at me from the shelves. They all looked like they should have a skull and crossbones warning label on them. I grabbed a few bottles and headed for home.
Grandma seemed calm enough when I get there, but she bolted as quickly as possible. Koss also seemed un-phased as he told me he read a whole book while waiting for someone to pick him up in the office.
I barely let him finish dinner before I doused his head with the inaugural lice treatment and then began what would be the first of 351 loads of laundry. After the 200th load I began to think that top sheets are overrated, as are hand towels, and really, wouldn’t it be easier to pull up the carpet than to vacuum it for the 32nd time? I was exhausted and I’d only been home for an hour.
I sprayed all of the surfaces that couldn’t be vacuumed or laundered with a toxic spray that smelled so bad it must have been killing something besides the nerve endings in my nose. Then I carefully examined every single strand of hair on my son’s head. I didn’t see a single louse, but there were lots of nits, which I painstakingly picked out with my fingers. Eww! I’m a monkey! This took an entire season of Eureka on the DVR.
I was certain his head was pristine when we checked in at the office the next day. Unfortunately the florescent lighting revealed a few more nits and the school secretary explained that they have a no nits policy. Oh joy! Off we went for a delightful day of nitpicking. Armed with wooden barbecue skewers, a fine-toothed metal comb, magnifying glass and disinfectant wipes, I examined every strand of my son’s head again and again until I started to name the individual hairs. “Hey, Curly. What’s up?” I wonder what they put in those shampoos?
Finally, someone turned me on to the “magic lice shampoo” from Caldwell’s Pharmacy that is nontoxic, can be used every day, and smells like peppermint, rather than motor oil. It costs a small fortune and we went through three bottles, but it was worth every penny.
We watched an entire season of Chuck and several Food Network Challenges as I picked through Koss’s freshly shorn head for what remained of these stubborn creatures. Finally, we were done!-until I checked my own hair. Eww! A welcome home present for my husband, who finally returned from his “stunted boy weekend.” Surprise. Lice to see you, honey. I’ll be the one with her head in the vat of lye.
Good times. My head itches just thinking about them.
Four weeks later, and I finally stopped checking for nits every time I looked in the mirror. Then we got a call from a friend who we were supposed to have dinner with, and he said his kid had lice. Did we still want to go out with them? I laughed until I cried, and then I sobbed a little more. Eww!