Lice – Breaking Down the Sanity of Our Society – One Mother at a Time

lice ecardLast weekend was my first time dealing with lice. I say first time, not because I’m expecting more, but to justify the level of manic lunacy that ensued. Look, I’m not proud of the series of events that unfolded or how I handled them, but I bet I’m not the only mom who’s lost sanity over those little buggers.

Being the neurotic person that I am, I spent the first twenty minutes trying to convince the mom who found said lice that she was certifiable and that no child of mine would EVER bring such an unseemly infestation into my home. Her child had lice the week before and she explained that she noticed my daughter itching her head, which she thought warranted further investigation. Then “the mom” all but put a nit (lice egg sac) in my cornea and I still claimed not to see it.

Crap, it’s 7PM on a Saturday night, my daughter is now crying over her lost sleepover. And I’m pretty sure there’s no place or person available to rob me blind and comb out the lice/rid my house of them, in return! 

This is when I made the shift from being your run of the mill mildly annoying naggy wife to a “we will get a fucking divorce if you don’t listen to my insane rantings and follow my orders to a T” wife.

“If you leave one nit just one, the cycle will start again,” echoed in my head. Those were the parting words of “the mom,” who yelled them out her window as she drove off, like some weird gypsy clairvoyant, giving me a warning about my future. Plus, she was shaking a finger at me, which is always a foreboding way to talk to someone.

Knowing nothing about lice and not having time to look up any facts, I decided that the most efficient way to tackle this plague was to do all the cleaning, washing, vacuuming, and nitpicking simultaneously or one lousy louse could start the whole cycle again. To make matters worse, I had convinced myself that lice multiply rapidly and jump from head to head eating away at your brain cells for sustenance and stripping you of your ability to do complex math problems, so time (and getting a prescription for Xanax) was of the essence.

I started barking orders at my husband, “Go to Walgreens and get Lice MD stat, and buy a metal lice comb, not a plastic one “the mom” said plastic doesn’t work – IT MUST BE METAL!!! … And we’ll need a ton of detergent, oh and trash bags because apparently we have to bag up all her stuffed animals and decorative pillows and store them in our humid Florida garage for like 3 weeks or until all the items collect a solid layer of toxic mold. (Whichever comes first) Now, go go go!!!”

15 full garbage bags of stuffed animals, Barbies, American Girls and throw pillows later, I called to see about my husband’s progress.

“I just got to Walgreens.”

“Why?”

“Well, CVS didn’t have it, so I had to go to Walgreens.”

“You mean you’re just getting to the place I told you to go to in the first place? Listen Buster (oh I called him Buster), you cannot be creative or lazy right now, the future of our family unit depends on you following my very explicit and not at all insane rantings, um directions.”

5 more full trash bags later, Buster arrived home with a lice kit by Lice MD, complete with a crappy plastic comb.

In a full sweat from packing up the house at lightning speed and boiling all of the bedding in our home I whispered: “Where’s the metal comb?”

Please know, that the quiet through the teeth whisper should never be taken lightly.

“The kit comes with a comb? I got a whole kit, see?” he said trying to impress me with his ability to think under pressure.

“NO MORE WIRE HANGERS! I MEAN, IT HAS TO BE METAL! Is it metal?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, let’s see what it says on the box, shall we?” I said, lifting it and backing it away because I do that now that I’m old. “Hmm, it says it includes 1 PLASTIC lice comb right here on the box, so I’m guessing it’s not metal, because I can read. Mother fucker.” OK, the Mother Fucker was silent, but it was clearly implied.

“I’ll go get a metal comb.”

“Do you have the detergent?”

“Nope, I’ll get that too.”

“The trash bags?”

“Um, nope I’m on it. I wanted to get you the lice stuff fast, so I ran in and out.”

“Why is J eating a Drumstick ice cream cone then? We didn’t have them before you left… Did you just buy that?”

Mark made a run for it, but he clearly hates me and he hates our home. I know this because he is leaving me no choice but to leave him and burn the whole place down, so that we can make a fresh, lice free start.

That or having it tented, like they do for termites and taking the risk of it becoming an undercover Meth lab.

When Mark returned, I gave him the job of vacuuming because I needed to keep him out of my presence, as I had grown snakes for hair and may have been spitting poisonous venom at everyone but my sweet little girl whom I coddled and reassured, and shampooed with toxins that I combed out for 2 hours straight!

Then I re-vacuumed the house and added vacuuming the sofas, beds and maybe the driveway, I can’t be sure.

Then I asked my husband to check my head, as I’d been itching ever since someone uttered the word “lice” and those snakes were irritating my scalp. Not having any clue how to check someone’s head for lice, or what he was even looking for — and clearly not remembering the popsicle stick days of our childhood, he smushed my hair flat in a couple of places and said, “It looks like a head to me.” He may as well have been looking at my ass!

At 2 AM I toxicically shampooed myself and combed out my own locks, stripping my scalp of any hairs that were not snuggly secure and making it look like I had a mild to moderate case of alopecia.

I continued to do laundry, heated everything in our home in the dryer for 20 minutes (including our cat), checked for lice, and re-vacuumed — for 5 days straight. Then I did it all over again when we went for a recheck and there was one dead lice (Lii? liche?) ONE, and it was dead. The stuff stayed in my garage for a month, meaning my car could not — and I combed out everyone’s hair numerous times, and always against their will.

PS next week my daughter is having a sleepover party for her birthday! Do you think it would be Picking Monkeyweird if instead of a glitter tattoo gal, I hire a nurse to do fun lice checks? (What? I don’t want that pestilence being reintroduced into my perfectly lice free home/Meth lab.) Fine, not a lice lady, but maybe a woman to do braids, who’s crazy thorough and doesn’t let you into my home until you’ve gotten the “all clear,” I mean, a cute fishtail?

OK, last try: I hire a monkey. Kids love monkeys!!! They’re festive and adorable and totally novel!  Really, who needs another cliché glitter tattoo or balloon animal? But fun with a monkey and a cute picture of him picking parasites off your body = priceless. Yes, and if he can do braids it’s a bonus.

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40 thoughts on “Lice – Breaking Down the Sanity of Our Society – One Mother at a Time

  1. Newsy Parents

    We haven’t had lice but I wrote a blog post about getting that “IMPORTANT: READ PROMPTLY” red labeled letter from school. I was neurotic in just my rants about the POSSIBILITY of getting lice… just the POSSIBILITY! But if we had it, I am positive it would’ve played out just like yours did and my hubby would’ve done the same thing – go to the store he wants, not read the box, forget other essentials. UGH. I vote you should stay married to him – he provides us with laughter and a feeling of “it’s not just my husband who does that!”

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  2. sparkling74

    I have not had lice but it’s already been around school and kids are getting left and right. I fear with all my heart this is the year that I will get it too. And I would definitely vacuum the driveway and the cat, before drying her on high for 20 minutes, just be sure. And they say animals don’t get it, by the way, but I dont’ believe it.
    sparkling74 recently posted…Facing The Bread AisleMy Profile

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    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      LOL they better not… I’ve done too much research that says they don’t get it and frankly if they did I would shave them bald rather than go through another brushing. Who are they impressing anyway?

      Reply
  3. Amy Fifer

    We found we had head lice first week of school. I of course panicked! But here in the suburbs of Philadelphia (and Va & Md) there is a company called Lice Happens. And a woman came to our house and combed everyone out and told me what to clean, cover etc. (Family of 6 and the 1 1/2 year old and hubby only ones lice free!)
    It was VERY expensive and my husband scoffed but I am saner for it and we are celebrating our anniversary today.

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  4. Mrs. Tuna

    I am the queen of head lice. After my worthless husband casually swirled his fingers through my waist length hair, he solved his concern by getting a buzz cut. I hate him.

    I then called one of my bestie who used to be a public health nurse, don’t screw around with over the counter crap, get a prescription from you kid’s doctor. Run a blow dryer twice a day on the roots has hot as you can force the kid, even dry hair. After the all clear, go to the health food store and by tea tree oil, add a few drops every time she washes her hair, forever.

    No pillow, fold a beach towel in pillowcase. Invest in a plastic mattress cover like for bed bugs, I left my kids on her mattress until she left for college.

    Last resort, shave her head and tell her all the cool chicks do it.
    Mrs. Tuna recently posted…Girl InterruptedMy Profile

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    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Oh Mrs. Tuna you are a wealth of knowledge. I’m on the tea tree and just went to the lice lady for the all clear, which we were given, though it didn’t stop me from doing one last brush out and rewashing and vacuuming EVERY-THING!!!!

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  5. Jane

    Oh Man, if Mrs Tuna is the Queen of head lice, I must be the Duchess. I’ve had years of them. Got so sick of them made the kids do themselves. No more since cut my youngest hair short (he’s a boy). Yes they can drive you bonkers. You know the itchiness comes from them weeing on your head, possibly after they’ve engaged in teenage sex. Brush hair regularly it helps break their legs. Good luck!
    Jane recently posted…I’ll Be Down at the MallMy Profile

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  6. Kelly Duplantis

    Yep…sounds almost EXACTLY like what went down over here , except for said
    daughter alternating btwn screaming & crying … it hurts , I’m pulling her hair ,are you done yet ?
    Oh , and I’ve had the privelage of doing it
    twice , yay me !!!

    Reply
  7. Emily

    Been there 3, yes 3 friggin times. 1st time all 3 of my boys had lice and I was in denial – boys aren’t supposed to get lice! Only girls with long hair, right?!? We were on vacation when this happened so I hired a lice lady after hours of insanity and trying to comb out my 3 boys… It cost a ridiculous amount of money to de-louse them but it was worth every penny bc she salvaged our vacation. It happened again with one son the following summer and then again the summer after that. The good news is I now consider myself a lice expert and so do my friends – I’m the first person they call when their kid has lice. What an honor.:) p.s. Did you dream about bugs crawling all over you after that first day of insanity? I did….
    Emily recently posted…Why I Love Our Temporary ApartmentMy Profile

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    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      How lucky did you get to get it on vacation???!!! That’s sarcasm, though I do like the thought of not having to clean out the house!!! I can’t even park in my garage as it’s filled with trashbags which I’m waiting weeks to return into my home… even though I was told 3 days. As for dreams… every night and I cannot stop itching.

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  8. Bari

    Lice, the age old horror story. My daughter’s school called me to pick her up, what, why? Lice! So I pick her up and do the whole crazy clean deal and took her back to school the next day. Then I get another call to pick her up again, are you kidding me? No, we found a nit… Well, FN toss it . I picked her up again,, you know the drill!

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    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      LOL FN toss it! I could just imagine what would happen if I actually said that… I had girls not want to ride home with me tonight because of this. If they only knew how insane I am (yet, I don’t blame them, I’d totes do the same).

      Reply
    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Yes – normalishness includes me schlepping to a lice check clinique today. I swear it was called clinique not clinic. I guess it was a fancy lice place. Why did I go? Because I can not see my own head and after double and triple checking everyone, I was sure no one knew what was going on in my hair. I’m glad to say after quite an odd experience at the Clinique – NOTHING. Phew!

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  9. Jae

    I feel your crazy pain so well right now! We’ve just been through fleas with our dog (who was treated for fleas). I have been vacuuming and washing and drying pillows like there’s no tomorrow. The poor dog has been banished to the garage and I’ve still been known to spring out of bed in the middle of the night and start washing bedding I constantly feel like I’m itching!!! When will the lambs stop screaming?!?

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  10. Auntie Em

    Ah, the signs of autumn – pumpkin spice lattes, cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors and head lice letters from school. Husband and I are both in health care (one of us in pediatrics) and VERY familiar with the little buggers. Nothing brings out your inner freak than the word lice. For good, solid information, go to the CDC website. It is very easy to miss a nit. That is why hubby recommends repeating the treatment in 6-7 days when the nit would hatch. Just to be sure. Chemicals are your friend. Save the natural organic stuff for your salads.

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    1. Jenny from the blog Post author

      Yes, I’m on it… everyday twice a day. Recheck recheck, rewash, revacuum. Frankly, my house and family have never been so clean, I can see my reflection in everything from the floor to my children’s fearful (what is our crazy mommy doing now), eyes.

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  11. Liz

    Ok, I honestly have to admit that (Thank God Almighty!!) that we haven’t yet – “yet” because you know it’s only a matter of time – had to go through the epidemic that is head lice. However, my daughter is a cheerleader/tumbler and they are constantly spreading those creepy crawlies around, so I make her shampoo with the Lice Shield repellant shampoo/conditioner, use their hair repellant spray & their Stick “roll on” every day during cheer & tumbling season! This year it started in June and were still using it all on a daily basis. Smells like crap but works great at keeping the creepy bugs away! I had one girlfriend try and get rid of them for 3 months! (Not even kidding!). Here’s to hoping I never get them!! Good luck! *scratch, scratch!*

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  12. Susan

    Jen,
    OMG. I must say I was cracking up while reading this. Not because of the annoying little pest, but because of the humor that there was in your blog. I experienced this once to an I thought that I was losing my mind. I immediately called my sister cause yes it was my dear nieces who were the ones that gave it to my daughter. She warned us about it a week prior. There was no way that I could keep my sanity and tackle this on my own. My dear husband was being like yours go by the stuff at Walgreens, but I had to do it myself. He’ll no I called louse calls. Really it is experienced company that comes to you and treats with a product with out using chemicals and they gaurentee that they will get all those little pest. In the mean time I vacuumed and baged toys. Put all hair brushes hair ties, even her karate helmet and gear in the freezer what I was told to do. My husband thought I was crazy for having these people come out to do it. But the best part was when his friend told him the next day that their child got it three times just because one lousy little nit was left behind in their daughters head. I lol and said huh best $160 I ever spent cause they are perfessionals and no what they are doing thoroughly get everything out and gaurentee. They come back the following week to check again. Hopefully we all will never encounter this again.

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  13. Jenna McCarthy

    Jesus, I got itchy just READING this. And I am going to take a break from searching for gently used Airstream trailers on eBay that I fantasize about restoring as my new office (what? you don’t do this?) to tell you my story. The first (as in, NOT THE LAST) time we were besieged by those nasty fuckers, I went batshit crazy (um, not unlike you did?) and literally gutted the house. I made my kids sit in the tub for two hours every night while the $80-a-bottle-organic-free-range-GMO-and-gluten-free-lice-shampoo did it’s thing. (Essentially: Nothing.) I bagged up every stuffed animal, every throw pillow, every toy with hair in the place and moved it to the garage in airtight bags. It looked like we lived in a hospital. I combed hair for hours a night and I itched constantly. Mind you, I never saw even a single nit, but the goddamned school nurse swore she did, so I did as I was told. The invisible nits magically disappeared (BECAUSE THEY WERE NEVER THERE, I AM TELLING YOU).

    The NEXT time we got it, I did what any sane person would do: I called the Lice Lady. (Hell yeah, that’s her name. And that’s her job: To rush to your house, day or night, and relieve you of $350 in exchange for total piece of mind. Ka-CHING!) She did her thing (both girls had not just nits but BUGS. I saw them!), I wrote her a check and the ordeal was over. There was no bagging of stuff (she insisted they couldn’t live off the head), no boiling, sterilizing or even vacuuming.

    THOSE BASTARDS NEVER CAME BACK.

    I have given the Monkey I mean Lice Lady’s number out three dozen times since then, and she has performed similar miracles every time.

    I will NEVER go back.

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  14. Tess

    I realize this is an old post, but it totally cracked me up. I went just as crazy when my dd got lice. The only good outcome was that it gave me the chance to cut my daughter’s stuffed animal collection more than half (they molded in the bags and were unrecoverable). I had no idea what lice or nits looked like and felt horrid because I had noticed she was itching and even had red marks on the back of her neck. I was totally sure both my husband and I also had lice–even though we never saw any nits — I still start itching when I think about it. I re-treated her two weeks later (she spent the week in between at her father’s house) and found live adults! Ack…I was sure we were in for a future of continued infestation but thankfully they never came back after that second treatment.

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    1. Jane

      Wow you got off lightly Tess! Only the once. I recalled dealing with my own headlice for a magazine. You can find my story on the ‘Published Stuff’ on my blog if you want to make yourself itchy again?! And gross yourself out with my nit facts; like what they do to make you itch? Nits are pretty rife in New Zealand, like possoms. In fact my children have just had another round. Yuk.

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  15. Barbara Rosalie

    Well, this post certainly brings back some memories. Hang in there. And keep blogging. I enjoy your writing and have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award. I hope you, in turn, nominate other worthy bloggers. To find out more, see my post at http://www.andbythatimean.com/#!One-Lovely-Blog-Plus-fifteen-more/cmbz/16B98C61-7713-41E6-87F2-60115FD0FB6F.
    Congratulations and good luck with that whole lice thing. (I’m scratching even as I write this.)

    Reply

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