Before our babies are even conceived, we start making lists of all our hopes and dreams for their lives. What they might look like, what schools they will attend, what careers they may choose… And we make another list of all the things we hope our children never experience. This list has sub-categories such as Things My Parents Did That I Will Never Do, Things My Friends Do That I Will Never Do, Things That I Did That I Will Never Let My Kids Do, etc. Of course there are the major things that you hope your child never has to go through first hand: life-threatening illness or serious injury – neither physical nor emotional. You hope they never have to cope with danger, tragedy or pain. And you hope they never, ever get a case of head lice.
Yep. Head lice. Now that I am on the other side of the mountain of laundry, I can talk about it. But it was traumatic at the time. Last Tuesday, Dean tentatively described to me these tiny bugs he was finding on his clothes and my stomach lurched a bit. Upon closer inspection, my fears were confirmed. One trip to CVS, two poison treatments (the first one didn’t work), one serious allergic reaction to the shampoo (me), two missed school days, one magic hot oil treatment, 48 loads of laundry and countless hours of combing later, I finally feel confident that he just might be the only family member to host the little bastards. That hasn’t stopped my neurotic scratching and head checking or my lectures to “keep your head, your coat, your clothes to yourself fortheluvaGod!”
A friend who recently dealt with this same issue with her own child laughed (at) with me. “It changes your whole perspective doesn’t it,” she said when I gasped to see my son wearing some of the freshly cleaned dress-up clothes – on his head. When I saw his head bent close to his brother’s while they worked on a project together, instead of saying, “Awwwww,” I said, “Ewwwww!” Is it going overboard to have him change his clothes as soon as he gets home from school or to look around his classroom with an accusing eye – who else is scratching? Whose head is the head of origin?
During one of our lengthy combing sessions, I found that I was silently debating which would be worse, stomach flu or lice? Both cause extreme housecleaning and extra laundry. Both result in someone staying home from school and major changes in my routine. Both make me become an internet expert on the subject. Both allow me to play that subtle blame game unique to parents "I think he got this from your child". Both make me do that complicated math equation in my head: # of days of incubation x the # of days of infection + the # of days of contagion x the # of family members = the # of days until Mom can rest assured that we are in the clear (which also equals the number of glasses of wine that may get consumed). Too close to call.