When the Demigoddesses were immunized against chicken pox, I felt like I had gotten out of one of the required rites of parenthood. My mom dealt with four kids having it all at the same time, when I was in the third grade and my youngest sister, Betsy, was just a baby. I remember an endless parade of Popsicles, constantly rotating medicated baths, lots of itching, and everywhere, little scabby faces and tummies. The fact that I would miss out on all of it seemed kind of like cheating.
Similarly, when cases of head lice started circulating around the Demigoddesses’ elementary school, I was sure that, at some point, it would arrive at our house as well. I listened to the horror stories from battle-weary parents who fought through recurring cases, about the chemical shampoos and the vacuuming and the laundry and the combing, combing, combing, and I wondered where and when my number would come up.
I mentioned in a recent post that we also dealt with head lice when I was a kid, so I figured I was up to the challenge. But miraculously, both Demis made it to the junior high without a single case, and I felt like I had once again dodged a bullet.
Until last Saturday, that is, when an inspection of Demigoddess the Younger’s itchy scalp confirmed it. Vermin. Lice. Bloodsucking parasites crawling and reproducing in my daughter’s hair.
I did not freak out. She, on the other hand, cried and begged me not to tell anyone, because if any of the kids at school found out it would be SO EMBARRASSING!
Oh, you mean embarrassing like standing in line at Walgreen’s with an armload of RID shampoo? “KILLS LICE AND THEIR EGGS,” it says in huge letters on the box, just in case the guy at the one-hour photo counter missed it. (I will NOT scratch my head while I am standing in this line… I will NOT scratch my head while I am standing in this line…)
It turns out that the poison shampoo (“My head feels like DEATH,” quoth Demigoddess the Younger), is the easy part. The really nasty bit is the fine-toothed combing. Like all parents, I have dealt with nuclear diapers, the entire vomit spectrum, and all manner of disgusting bodily fluids, much of which I have had on my person at some point. But none of that had legs. Through two hours and most of a tube of “Egg & Nit Comb-Out Gel,” the foulness I picked out of that child’s hair made me swoon.
Then came the cleaning, because, naturally, the Demis’ bedroom was wall to wall with stuffed animals and dirty clothes. While they piled everything into garbage bags for quarantine, I loaded the washer with every stitch of bedding, and then vacuumed every corner of carpet and every square inch of upholstery in the house.
Of course, none of this was on the agenda when I woke up on Saturday morning.
As of today, Demigoddess the Younger appears to remain louse-free. And, fortunately, her sister and I seem to have been spared altogether, although the psychosomatic scalp itchiness that I have experienced since Saturday is really getting annoying.
After school on Monday, Demi the Younger happily shared that earlier in the day she had overheard a couple of her friends whispering about their moms bagging up all of their stuffed animals and putting them in the garage. She confided in one of them that she, too, had been a victim, and she learned that her arch-nemesis, Mean Boy, had gone under the poison shampoo, too.
And yes, she gave me permission to blog about it.