An innocent little buzzing noise came from the center console. We had been on the road home from Christmas with my in-laws for a whole four hours, and my mother-in-law was sending me a text. She does that- she likes checking in.
One look at the message and my heart dropped to my feet.
“Lice,” I moaned. “The other cousins at Christmas have LICE.”
My husband gasped. “Not again! No, no no no!”
“What is it, mommy?” One of our five year olds, whose thick, waist length curls had been Ground Zero for lice starting back in September, frowned from the back seat.
“Nothing honey! Just pretend we didn’t say anything!”
“Did you say ‘lice?'” the other five year old chimed in. Her hair almost as long, almost as thick, and almost as curly… but with a scalp ten times more tender.
“Lice!” the mop topped two year old screamed. “I don’t wanna bush my hair!”
“No! Nobody says that word!” I screamed, surreptitiously scratching what I hoped was a psychosomatic itch behind my ear.
Truth be told, if the kids DID have lice, we couldn’t have been in a better situation. Their beds had been laying empty for over a week while we were away- they wouldn’t need to be treated. I already had a shelf in the pantry filled with nit combs and lice shampoo, not to mention bottles and bottles of mayo and rolls of saran wrap. For three solid months, Chicago had been Lice Central, and I’d bought out the local pharmacy’s supply of lice killing paraphernalia more than once.
All I had to do was weather a twelve hour trip in a cramped minivan with three curly-haired Typhoid Marys and God knew how many hangers on.
I glared at my husband, who conveniently started shaving his head shortly after we went through our THIRD round of lice treatment.
“Well, at least they’re out of school for another week anyway, right?”
“I’m going to comb all your hair when we get to Chicago, okay girls?”
They all started to cry.
Four hours of a ten hour drive down.
God help us all.
Lea Grover is a writer in Chicago. She scribbles about sex-positive parenting, marriage after cancer, and vegetarian cooking on her blog, Becoming SuperMommy. Her publications include, “My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends,” and “Motherhood: May Cause Drowsiness,” “Discovering True: The #NoMoreShame Project,” and another collection coming out in April- “Listen To Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now.” When she isn’t revising her upcoming memoir, she can be found singing opera, smeared to the elbow in pastels, or complaining/bragging about her children on twitter and facebook.