Getting Lice Is Not Nice

child scratch head itching isolated on white

School will be starting soon evoking memories of new shoes, fresh notebooks, the smell of classroom paste – and LICE. There is the dreaded official notice from the school: It has come to our attention there has been a confirmed incident of lice in your son/daughter’s class . . .

Last year my granddaughter came home from school scratching. Soon, so was my daughter, my step-daughter and ME! I had taken a nap with Ruthie and woke up with the tiny vermin a few days later.

First there is panic. The stomach-sinking yuckk factor. I was so skeeved out that vanity went out the window. I took a kitchen stool to the backyard and had my husband give me a very, very short haircut. It actually looked good in a prisoner-of-war sort of way. I washed with green, smelly lice shampoo. I slept for a week with my head coated in olive oil, covered with a shower cap. My husband said he woke up every morning hungry for salad.

After two years of “confirmed incidents” at my granddaughter’s school, her mom is an expert lice checker. The eggs, like teeny tiny pearls, attach to clean hair more easily than dirty, The lice themselves can actually jump off the “victim” onto a bathroom mat. (So there’s screaming involved when you find them.)

There are all sorts of products available on the market: from organic to toxic and home remedies (like olive oil and mayonnaise). There are even businesses solely devoted to lice removal with catchy names like The Hair Fairies and Lice Busters.

Having lice is an altogether humbling experience. And an economic leveler. Lice can be found in suburban schools. In the densest inner city schools. In the poshiest private schools. But a pediatrician we know managed to put a positive spin on it: “Getting lice means that your child has friends.”

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