Oh how that one word can make your head crawl and itch.
A few weeks ago my sleepy, blonde-headed baby walked into the kitchen and stated.
“My head is itchy.”
Alarmed, my husband and I exchanged a cringe-worthy look.
I’ll be honest. Initially, panic flooded us both.
You see, years ago we lived in a campus community. It was great as young parents because it was very family centered. Our children had constant playmates and shared a whole lot of fun.
But one summer amongst the endless days under the sprinklers and warm evenings at the park, lice announced it’s presence and it spread though the community like wildfire. There is a point where sharing is not encouraged. It is safe to say that lice falls into that category.
We called it the great lice epidemic of 2011. And it was rememberable.
We spent days meant to be outside playing, inside, under bright lights, painstakingly combing through our children’s hair and washing every blanket, pillow, and stuffed animal in sight. We bought all the ammo we needed (which cost a fortune), and for good measure had evening mayonnaise parties.
(I might be a little bit of an overachiever.)
My oldest daughter in particular had the worst of it. Her hair is long and thick. I was determined to save it. For an entire week I combed through every single strand on her pretty little head.
One night though, she had enough and through her tears she cried, “Just cut it.”
And so we did.
A month later I was still obsessively combing through their hair just in case we missed even one single nit. Our efforts were rewarded and we haven’t had to deal with lice since.
Well… since the other morning my littlest declared her head was itchy.
I hesitantly started picking through her hair, concentrating at the nape of her neck and around her ears where I know those pesky critters like to make their home. At first glance I was relieved. I didn’t see one single nit or lice.
When I was almost going to quit I saw it. A teeny tiny louse. Barely noticeable to the naked eye. But thankfully this mama has super lice powers.
I could have cried. But I didn’t. Instead I put my brave pants on with a smile for my kid’s sake.
Here is the thing. Lice love hair. It doesn’t matter if you are dirty or clean. They love hair and they love to feed on human scalps. So if you are human and have hair or a scalp, you aren’t immune. They love you and want to be with you.
But kids. Oh they are sensitive and lice can be embarrassing. I didn’t want my little girl to feel shame. They can easily pick up on our emotions. So I took what could have been a stressful day and made it fun.
My husband called into work to take the day off and declared a lice party. He really didn’t have to do that but I certainly was glad. He was my life saver. He ran to the store to purchase all the necessary medicine along with chocolate, chips, drinks, and popcorn. As we washed and combed through each child’s head several times for good measure, they watched movies and ate junk food.
For lunch we ordered take-out which was such a fun treat for them. We vacuumed, ran the washing machine ragged, and bagged up every single stuffed animal we owned. It took us all day long.
But we didn’t cry.
We joked and laughed and came out victorious.
Weeks later the kids talk about our lice party with fond memories.
I call that a win. Even if my head still feels a bit itchy. (I can’t help it. That word just makes my skin crawl on demand.)
Now we are back to daily head checks and braiding our girls’ hair before school. I also spray on a blend of tea-tree oil and peppermint on the nape of their necks and behind their ears to help prevent them from returning. We also remind them not to share hats or brushes.
But if they do return, it’s ok. We will just throw another lice party and attack it one nit at a time.