There are a few milestones you go through as a parent with your children. First smiles, first words, first solid foods, first steps, first tantrums in public places, first fevers. But there is one not talked about amongst the Secret Order of People with Children. No, there are some Firsts so intensely skeevy, so hair-raisingly squicky, so truly horrifying that until you enter that particular ring of hell, no one talks about it.
I’m talking about lice.
G-ddamnit it I get itchy just typing the word.
About two weeks into third grade I got a call from the school asking me to come pick up Leah. She had lice.
Are you KIDDING me?! She’s been at school all of NINE days?! She’s been to camp (with a Swine Flu issue)! She’s gone to day camp all summer long! She’s been on an airplane to San Francisco! She’s been to Galveston! And you’re telling me we send her to school for NINE DAYS and she gets LICE?!
I had two questions at that point: (1) WTF do we do now? and, (2) WHO THE HELL DID SHE GET IT FROM?!
We were given a piece of paper that had some things to know about lice and how (allegedly) to get rid of it. It even had a coupon for a product at the drugstore. So… off we went. $30 later we came home with two bottles of it (just in case because her hair is long and thick) and proceeded to go through her hair ¼ inch by ¼ inch section to come through it and put this amazingly greasy product on it. I’ll give her credit, she was a total trooper.
Ironically, she was due to get a haircut that day – so after we were done, I raced her over to the hair dresser and told her quietly of the issue. Technically she wasn’t supposed to do her hair, but I told her I really believed we got it all. She agreed to wash and cut Leah’s hair, but not blow dry it. FINE! NO PROBLEM! But OMG please cut her hair it’s so ridiculously long and out of shape.
And guess what we found? Yep. More lice issues. The nits. (And a word to the squeamish – don’t Google this if you aren’t prepared. Take my word on this one.)
So… back to the drugstore. Another $60 now, but MY head was feeling itchy and I wanted product at home in case I had issues, too.
And another hour’s worth of going through Leah’s hair. I SWEAR I got it all this time.
While this was all going on, I read that I had to wash EVERY linen she may have come in contact with (which, in this case, was every bedroom in my house) and any clothing. All needed to be washed on HOT water. While THAT’s going on, bag up EVERY stuffed animal or soft toy in garbage bags for two WEEKS.
For those of you playing the home game, that equated to 11 loads of laundry on HOT and 9 bags of toys all across the house. I couldn’t wait to see my electric bill.
Leah seemed to be fine, so I let her go to school the next day. But then, while folding one of the ELEVEN loads of laundry, I started to feel itchy. Really awful itchy. And it wasn’t getting better. It wasn’t getting better to the point that I was miserable and called Husband to come home from work because I needed him to get that anti-lice goop on my head ASAP or I was going to freak straight the hell out and I couldn’t do it all myself. (Much like you can’t dry the back of your hair as well as your hairdresser can, I wasn’t about to do a half-assed job on the back of my head in THIS situation.)
An hour and a half later, we were done. But I realized that all the clothes I had dealt with that day had to be Rewashed as well as all my bed linens. I was tired, itchy and over it. And really g-ddamned close to tears.
BestFriendWendy tried to be as supportive as she could via phone and happened to mention that in the Chicago area there were “Lice Removal Services”. Lucky bastards. (But how’d you like THAT for a job?!)
In pure desperation, I Googled that for where I live. And lo and fucking behold there it was: Texas Lice Squad. OMFG. It’s right around the corner from my neighborhood. They opened at 9am. I left a message at 7:34am begging them to take me and the kids for a check and removal if necessary. At that point, I would have paid them $5,000 to make this nightmare end.
(As an aside, this totally sucked. But I know another family that dealt with this for SIX MONTHS. I would have started shooting at people.)
I race both kids and myself over there later that day. Turns out an old colleague of mine owns this place as she went through this nightmare with her family for NINE MONTHS (see previous note OMG). Benjamin is fine – thank G-d – the thought of having to get him to sit still for that long was awful. Leah, well, she still had some issues. As did I.
Oh? And guess what? All the information the school nurse had given me? WAS WRONG. And that product I used? WOULD NEVER HAVE SOLVED THE PROBLEM. All the laundry I did? NOT NECESSARY. And? TAKE THE TOYS OUT OF THE BAGS NOW.
The Texas Lice Squad fixed it. They are, without a doubt, my heroes and I have pimped them out to other parents dealing with this every chance I get.
I am livid at my school nurse and principal. There was never any notice sent home to the parents about a lice issue in the classroom. The information we were given was not only wrong, but ineffective. Combined they are not even giving the parents a fighting chance against this ridiculous issue.
And I will deal with them shortly.
In the meantime, I’ve learned a lot about lice. Namely I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. And never want them in my life again. Even the mere tingle on my head now has me running to a mirror to check. Leah thinks I’ve lost my ever-loving mind as I go through her hair each week like some deranged gorilla mom straight out of a National Geographic special.
But you know what? Screw lice.