My kids head back to school next week.
The imminent return to school had me replaying some of my motherhood highs and lows in my head.
One I never wrote about, partly out of embarrassment and partly out of post-incident trauma, was our lice outbreak.
Loathsome lice. Evil heinous little creatures.
Ones which we contracted ONE WEEK after the kids started their NEW school a year ago! That’s right – the new kids with lice.
Today are the highlights of my Voxer exchange that first day with a dear mama who’d been through the fire to give you a good laugh (and a feel for my horror and overwhelmed-ness). Let’s call her MWLE (Mom with Lice Experience). Tomorrow, the hilarity (or despair) concludes.
Me: Have you gone through lice? I’m asking for a close personal friend whose daughter may or may not have woken up with lice.
MWLE: You must call up the pediatrician. It’s super lice and Texas has it. The stuff in the store it doesn’t work – the lice have grown beyond it. So you have to get this prescription called in from the doctor she will sleep in overnight.
All the hippies in the world will tell you it soaks into your kids brain – I don’t even care, don’t listen to them.
They will tell you it’s highly flammable. What if it catches fire, they will wonder aloud to you. Well okay, so no one smoke around her in the middle of the night. Does anyone smoke around her in the middle of the night?
You have to wash her bedding every night. I’m so sorry. Dry it on high heat. Stick all the throw pillows in garbage bags, I don’t know, for like 3 months. Or you can freeze stuff.
Melt your scalp. It’ll itch and peel, who cares. Burn it with the hair dryer. Straighten it with the hair dryer.
Also, Listerine, mayonnaise, and tea tree oil will all help. Slather it all over her and sit there.
Me: (Sniffing, in complete panic now…) Do I put her stuffed animals in bags?
I’m throwing away my hairbrush. I loved it. It’s been with me a long time. But she used it. (Sniff, sniff.)
I guess I should tell her teacher, but I’m so mortified, we’ve never had lice.
I’m going to have to bag her baby dolls. She’s going to be so heartbroken because she just sits in her room and plays with her baby dolls.
MWLE: (Imagine voice in full military tone, it’s all business with MWLE, no room for huggy kissy crap – this is war!)
Wash the bedding – ALL the bedding EVERYWHERE on as hot of water and high of heat as you have. Wash all the rugs, all the pillows, everything. Don’t share anything! Not masks. Hats. Sunglasses. Agh. No child should touch another’s.
Vacuum vacuum vacuum. Lice cannot live off of the human body for more than 24 hours so vacuum everywhere and ALL the time.
You’ve got to get all the nits in the environment.
Also, clean hair gets lice easier. So do other people know that? I don’t know. But if you tell the teacher it can prevent this terrible cycle of other parents going through this.
ME: My pediatrician didn’t even bat an eye. The nurse had been through it and said we’re calling you in three bottles of the prescription shampoo and you’ll probably only need one bottle for the boys.
ME: (Later in complete panic!) But NO Walgreens in the city of Houston has THIS prescription shampoo and it will not be available until Monday! It’s Friday!
So what other pharmacy would you use?, the nurse inquires kindly. I. Will. Go. Anywhere, Nurse Lisa. I will drive anywhere in the greater Houston area where we can find this medicine. She responded, I’m on it, I will call you back – but not in five minutes, two hours, so hang in there.
MWLE: I am so glad you have found a nurse that has been through it. Because there are two camps of people in this world.
There is the camp of people that have been tried in the furnace of lice and those that have not been. And until you have been through this furnace, you might think you get it, but you DO NOT KNOW the furnace of having your children have lice.
Do I have to meet you? Is there any of this medicine I could buy in Florida? I’ll meet you half way. Because I have been through the furnace. I will bring you the medicine.
ME: We are new to this school! We have been at this school for ONE WEEK. We are the family WITH LICE? Do I have to call her friends?
It didn’t even cross my mind! I wouldn’t have even looked at it if she hadn’t told me her teacher said I should look at her neck.
MWLE: Keep me posted. Remember: Hot water. Hot dryer. And you have to vacuum everything. If you have a bag in your vacuum, you have to change it in every room because a louse can get out in your house.
(Me Listening: A LOUSE IN MY HOUSE! I’m in a bad Dr. Seuss book!)
ME: So I have to go figure out my vacuum cleaner because I’ve never operated it because I have people who come and clean my house. (I do not have the time to be embarrassed right now.)
MWLE: Bag everything for two weeks. First, apply lice spray that is supposed to kill them before you bag them. Bag up all the cushions in the couch. All animals. All dolls. Get a mattress cover. Did I mention: wash the sheets every day.
ME: I’m going to cry. I am crying. All of the medicines were out of stock everywhere! So then the doctor went a different route and called in a different medicine. And then I went to pick it up and the pharmacist said it was out of stock! WHAT!?!?
The “people” told the nurse all the HEBs have it. But then they called it in and all the HEBs do not have it. So the nurse just asked, what do you have for lice? HEB says we have nothing.
So then precious, persistent Nurse Lisa calls Walgreens and says what do you have for lice? They say we have this X product. Nurse says how much do you have? They say seven tubes!
OH BUT WAIT! I send Bray to pick it up and he arrives and the despicable pharmacist says they only have ONE TUBE. Why would they just tell Nurse Lisa they have seven tubes when they have ONE TUBE. We now own one expensive tube of some random lice cream. I don’t even know if this stuff is going to work. And the doctor’s office closes in less than one hour ON A FRIDAY.