Thursday, July 21, 2011

The circle of lice

A few years ago my oldest daughter came home and told me that she caused the school nurse to laugh out loud during a mandatory visit to her office for a class lesson about lice. When the nurse pointed to the poster illustrating the life cycle of the louse, and asked the group to tell her what they were looking at; my girl quickly, and aptly, replied, "the circle of lice."

Well yes, yes indeed. Hee hee.

My girl did not contract lice during that campus outbreak, nor any other campus outbreak, nor during girl scout camp when many young, itchy-headed campers were sent home. My middle daughter has never had lice either, even though classmates around her have.

We've not had to concern ourselves with the circle of lice because lice have not been in our life circle. Until now.

The dreaded call came not from the school nurse, or camp counselor, or girl scout troop leader, but from my oldest daughter. I could tell from her opening, "Mom, guess what?!" that it was going to be a doozy, but well, I wasn't expecting that.


My first reaction? To Gasp? Cry? Lament?

No, I scratched my head. Then scratched again. Then wondered if I'd been doing that all day, or week, and simply not noticing -- unitl now.

Then I lamented. And promptly emailed my friends for advice. I emailed Jacquie, of course, working as she does, day in and day out, with young children. She's seen lice outbreaks many, many times before. And her advice is always solid, and funny. Amazingly, she found time to email me explicit instructions while, "knee deep in tequila" after her daughter's much anticipated dance recital at Emilio's den of margaritas.

And although no one wants to deal with lice, you gotta hand it to Jacquie; it almost sounds fun:

There are a lot of combs and apparatus that you can buy to supposedly do the job, but really you just need your fingers and your sanity - park her in front of the tv and grab yourself a cocktail.

Once you lose your mind from the combing/picking there is a treatment you can do with coconut oil that works well to clear the head...In the morning, she should take a shower and you can easily comb everything out of her head and the whole house will smell like a giant pina colada.

I giant pina colada? I'm in!

The advice has been spot on. Although my critter-infested daughter was at her dad's when she discovered she had lice, so it fell to him to douse her with toxic shampoo and perform the first comb out, I knew full well I'd have to do the nit-picking myself as soon as she got home to me (call me a control freak if you must, but deconstructing a head of hair is a job for a paranoid mother!), and once I started I saw exactly what Jacqueline was talking about. Those combs, although semi-useful, cannot accomplish what your fingers, with their nails, can do.

I know, I know, it's gross. It really is.

But the lousy louses have been biting my poor girl's tender scalp. They deserve to die.

And I will use dryer heat, and boiling water, and thorough vacuuming to vanquish their empire. I will quarantine stuffed animals, apply tea-tree oil, smear coconut oil, and affix shower caps. I will blow dry hair on high, spray hair spray, and send her out in the world with a high, tight braid each day. (Thanks, Jo!)

I will do what I must.

It's going to be a battle, but I'm determined to flatten that circle of lice.


not a fan of lice in PA said...

you don't even want me to start on my story of the circle of lice that nearly had me committed.
My children are well aware that I would rather hear that they failed out of school than hear that they failed a lice check...
That said, did you tell them about the lovely body lice that you and I brought home and shared with Mr. Johnston?!?

Pat said...

Hang in there you think they will be gone by Cristmas?
Love, Mom

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Ohdeargodinheavenabove. Now I'm scratching *my* head. And everywhere else. Lousy louses are beyond disgusting. There's a *reason* they call them lice for godssake.

But you're doing the right thing -- soliciting Jacqueline and all your other lice-invested friends. Er, you know what I mean.

Poor Ms. A. Poor you. Poor me.


Allison in NC said...

Thank you! Thank you guys - for making me laugh at this awful experience. Googling the life cycle of a louse brought me to your blog. We took our kids to see Planet of the Apes and apparently, my youngest won the lice lottery when he contracted the critters from the theater seat. GROSS - I never want to go to the movies again!