it’s lice, in case you’re the type who likes to keep track of things.

remember in the bible, when the jews were trying to leave egypt, and pharaoh didn’t want them to- so God stuck him with ten plagues to help him, uh, change his mind?

i can see how lice might help someone to either change their mind or lose their mind, depending on how they are wired.

when one of my kids was first sent home from school with lice (one egg spotted in school, but no actual bugs), i combed through her hair with a special lice comb and slathered her head with mayonnaise. it’s a low-tech trick that suffocates the lice and also makes the hair slippery so the eggs slide off easier. i stripped the beds down and washed everything in super hot water with plenty of detergent, including all hair-care items, clothing, towels, etc. it was evening and it was morning – the first day.

i diligently combed and checked her several times throughout the next day. i rewashed the bedding, the towels, and the clothing. i kept the hair care stuff in a closed ziploc bag with hot water and detergent so i wouldn’t have to keep washing it. i used natural light and a really bright lightbulb. i kept her away from the other kids and didn’t let her have play dates. she watched way too many movies, but i figured it would be ok because it was so short-term. it was evening and it was morning- the second day (and the third).

contrary to all logic and good sense, she still had one or two fresh nits each morning, although i still had found a grand total of one actual bug. i bit the bullet and went to walgreen’s and bought an anti-lice spray (only somewhat toxic) and an anti-lice shampoo (guaranteed to be toxic to lice but not to kids. go figure). i sprayed her hair liberally, as well as everything in her surroundings, and checked like my future sanity depended on it. i held off on using the shampoo, although i still washed all of our laundry in hot water. 3-4 loads per day later, i still found a few nits per time in her hair, but no actual bugs, and let her watch way too many movies so she’d be happy and occupied while i tried to keep up with the demands of the rest of the family and she moped around the house. having lice is just a no-fun thing all around. it was evening and it was morning- the fourth day.

on the fifth day i came to my senses and decided that a) it was stupid to have the shampoo in the house and not use it; b) it was stupid to have the shampoo in the house and not use it; and c) it was stupid to have the shampoo in the house and not even try it. oh, did i say that already? ;)  so, i opened it up, and discovered to my delight that it was actually a gel that you put in the hair and it made it really goopy and slippery. unlike the toxic and frightening dangerous poisons i was worried about (my friend warned me that she heard of a child whose scalp had been chemically burned by a lice shampoo- yikes!), this was a pretty non-threatening stuff i could massage in with my bare hands that had no odor and could sit on her hair without danger. so, i put it in her hair (she only needed 1/2 the bottle, which was another pleasant surprise), waited the required 10 minutes, and combed through her hair. after seeing how benign it was, i didn’t hold out a lot of hope for it to do much, but guess what? i found an embarrassing number (ok, not a huge number, but a definite few) of little critters. oh dear- i guess that’s where the nits had been coming from, huh? so much for the dry hair checking and the combing out and the mayonnaise and the spray and the day after day after day… well, at least i finally found something that worked. i did one more treatment of this miracle stuff before bed, and washed everything in our small but creepy crawly world one final time before bed. by now the pillows were in sealed trash bags inside of the sanitized pillow cases, and the carpets were all sprinkled with carpet fresh powder before they were vacuumed for the umpteenth time. it was evening and it was morning, and it was the fifth long day.

this morning we got up and i checked my daughter’s super-clean hair. i have never seen such clean hair. she didn’t have a speck of dandruff. she didn’t have a spot of dirt. and she didn’t have a single nit. but i checked her whole head anyway. and she got dressed for school. we ate breakfast and packed lunches. i let her watch PBS while i did a few things i needed to finish before i took her to school. the other kids got up and around. *h left for the day. and i checked her one final time, just to be sure, because i knew my reputation was on the line. she was good to go. so we went.

i dropped her off at school and everyone was really excited to see her back. i came home and went straight downstairs to throw in my first load of non-hot laundry in almost a week.

and my cell phone rang.

yep.

the school found one nit.

i literally told them it wasn’t possible.

i actually told them it had to be a mistake.

there was no way i missed something in her hair.

there was no way anything escaped my checking.

but this morning i checked her in the house without natural light.

oh, crud.

i still kind of sort of really don’t fully belive it.

about 99.9999% of me thinks that there may have been only one random nit (or even that it descended from a cloud of dust in the air and alighted upon her head seconds before her lice check in school?)- but that she is really honestly and truly not infested with lice. splitting hairs?

either way, i’ve declared myself on a lice-hiatus for today.

i figure that if i have to start over again with shampooing and checking it doesn’t matter if i do it tomorrow or today, so i might as well have a little break.

so for the next few hours i’m in denial.

i’m cosmically done with anything that has more than two legs.

i’m deliberately unaware of anything that needs extermination.

i’m so mentally exhausted with the whole business that i can barely even write about it.

so i think i’ll stop here.