Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Our Louse-y Holiday

Last week, my husband and I passed our first test in nit-picking. Not the metaphorical kind, the real McCoy. What you do so your kids can get an "all clear" from the school nurse and go back to class.

On December 25, while many parents were pulling presents from under the tree, my husband and I were pulling lice from our 4-year-old's hair. With no nuke-the-critters shampoo on hand, we were left to douse our daughter in conditioner and go follicle-to-follicle, hunting down each louse.

Our biggest challenge: convincing a pre-schooler to sit for hours so we could comb through every inch of her scalp. "So what mommy? I like bugs." A Cinderella DVD was the required bribe for stillness, high-pitched mouse songs oddly appropriate to the task at hand.

Hunched over ringlets, with crooks in our necks and tired eyes, my husband and I found ourselves smiling. "How primal is this!" Like cave-dwellers before us, we scouted out 40 little grey beasts (though we flushed our lice down the toilet, didn't eat them : -)). My ability to see the humor dimmed slightly on learning that my daughter's lice had colonized my head too.

I recall a day 30+ years ago when my little brother came home with lice. A mood of shame descended on our home as my fastidious mother faced down the army of icky little fellows and we all felt there had been some failure in cleanliness. There didn't seem anything fun about it.

While I can't say I'm hoping for more lice, it hasn't been all bad. After weeks of checks, rechecks and yanking suspicious items from each other's scalps, my husband, son, daughter and I have a new perspective on each other. And I having my husband patiently comb through my hair felt strangely calming - a kind of bonding we just don't do in modern life.

Maybe it helps to know that lice are not a report card ("They prefer clean, dry hair," a louse expert told me, "can't attach well to oily hair. Not much you can do except tell your kid not to share clothes or hug their friends - good luck until she's 12!") In this time of unexpected challenges, I'm going to thank our louse-y friends for reminding me that adversity is more fun when you face it as a group sport.


1 comment:

david_dvdson said...

ive read all of your post,and thank you so much for the wonderful information youve just given the whole internet. i am gonna try all of this once i get home(at work). my kids have head lice and i have trouble getting rid of them, anyway thanks again

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