The Lice Battle: No Shame, No Gain

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Nothing will make your heart skip a beat like a phone call from the school nurse. The minute I received a call from the elementary school nurse about one of my daughters, I had images of a broken bone or gash in her head from the playground. Imagine my surprise when I heard what the nurse had to say. “Mrs. Newsome, you need to pick up your daughter. She has lice.” Huh??? My mind raced back over the past few weeks. The kids bathed every night, the sheets on their bed were fairly fresh, my house is relatively clean…how can my child have lice? I picked her up from school and actually felt embarrassed as if I had done something wrong when I went to go pick her up. Little did I know that I was about to endure a battle of epic proportions.

I went to the pharmacy to pick up the special medicated shampoo to get rid of the lice. I debated grabbing one of the Halloween masks sitting in a bin at the front of the store and wearing it so no one would recognize me. There is such a stigma that we have attached to lice. I decided to be an adult about it and marched right back to the aisle and grabbed the shampoo. For those of you who have not had a visit from the lice bugs, let me tell you this…the shampoo is expensive, it comes with what seems like a fifteen step process that you get to repeat over a few weeks and you even get a special comb. On my way to the checkout line I ran into a friend of mine. I didn’t want her to see the lice shampoo in my cart so I quickly grabbed some things off the shelves to cover it. I was pretty proud of myself for how I had remained so calm and cool. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed that what I had grabbed off the shelf to cover the lice shampoo was 9 boxes of His and Hers Intensifying Gel. No wonder this friend never called me to meet for lunch, she probably thought I was way too busy!

I understand why some parents have said it is easier to shave your child’s head than treat lice. You have to pick the bugs out of your child’s head. My children have such beautiful red hair, but for someone who has hit forty and has a hard time seeing a street sign, seeing those little brown bugs in their red hair is next to impossible. I felt like a monkey at the zoo the way I sat there picking through her head. I would do anything for my children, but picking bugs out of their heads, seriously, that is just nasty.

I washed the sheets in hot water about a dozen times. Apparently lice can love stuffed animals as much as my kids, so I had to bag up their stuffed animals to “detox” for two weeks. A few nights later I noticed my son scratching his head. The dreaded scratch that I knew meant those darn bugs must have taken residency up on his head. And so the cycle began again and again and again. Literally five out of the six kids got it! I tried every medicated shampoo, home remedy (like mayonnaise and olive oil) and finally a face soap that you put on their head and sit them in the sun and let it dry for eight hours.

The highlight was when I was putting my make up on one morning and suddenly see a lice bug crawl out of my hair onto my forehead. Nothing reminds you of how much it stinks to be single as when YOU get a case of lice. Do you know how hard it is to pick them out of your own hair? I can just imagine the conversation if I was dating someone. “Honey, I know we’ve only been dating a few months, but would you pick these bugs out of my hair?” I guess that is when those 9 boxes of gel could come in handy…bribery!

I am happy to say that after what seemed like an eternity we won the battle. I have been amazed how almost every parent I know has some lice story to share. Some of the stories have made me laugh so hard I cried. We shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about lice and share our frustrations. Let’s just accept the fact that when you have kids, lice happens.

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