It’s been close to two years, and I finally feel like I can write about it now — that time my long-haired daughter had actual bugs living in her hair.
Yep, I’m talking lice, people.
By first grade, our capable girl was well into shower territory. I wasn’t soaping her up anymore, and she was into brushing her own hair, too, and opting to leave it down more often than not. So I wasn’t overly familiar with her scalp at the time, the way I currently am with our 3- and 6-year-olds.
One morning, instead of leaving it down, she asked for two French braids. As I parted her hair, I noticed that her part looked a little dirty. It had been exceptionally windy the day before, with dirt and those wood chips from the playground flying everywhere, and I remember wondering if she hadn’t done a very good job washing her hair.
I rubbed my finger against her part to inspect this brown stuff a little more closely, and when the little speck actually moved, I felt a dawning horror.
I grabbed my phone, and in less than a second, I had my answer.
My daughter stared at me in the mirror, and I adopted this falsely cheery, no-big-deal attitude.
“Well, you aren’t going to school today,” I told her.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
In the most casual manner possible, I told her she had lice, but it was no big deal! It totally happened! We would take care of it, no problem!
She freaked, just as I would if someone told me I had creepy-crawlies living and laying eggs on my head, and as her hysteria escalated, I did my best to pacify her with calm rationale.
Heroically battling the urge to squeal myself and leap into the shower, I tossed all of our brushes into a mild bleach bath, scrubbed my hands, and then took a quick look at her siblings’ heads: 8-year-old, clear. Four-year-old, clear. One-year-old — heaven help me — clear.
My own head was crawling, of course, and I was certain that I could feel these things everywhere. But I straightened my big-girl undies and focused on the job at hand — school drop-off, weapons of mass destruction, reinforcements and then — termination.
I was as breezy as could be, trying to calm my increasingly hysterical daughter.
After calling the school to inform them of my daughter’s impending absence and then dropping my oldest, I called my own mother and did my best to hold it together as we headed to the store. I picked up the first lice kit I saw, which came complete with a shampoo to suffocate the little buggers, some toxic spray for all our upholstered items (I nearly fainted, as this part hadn’t even occurred to me) and a steel comb — for what, I didn’t even want to know.
My mom was waiting when we got home, and I handed off the little kiddos and set to work.
First, the shampoo that would kill the living bugs. Then, the steel comb to pull all the nits (eggs) glued to her hair. It took four full hours to comb through her head, because I literally went layer by layer by layer, pinning and twisting and re-pinning cleaned sections. I quickly became adept at finding these tiny, translucent little bumps stuck to her long-ass hair, using a flashlight to make sure I got every last one.
Then I scrubbed my hands, asked my mom to check my scalp, and set about disinfecting my entire house. I also consulted Dr. Google and became quite the lice expert, which both calmed and repulsed me.
For the next 10 days, our daughter wore her hair braided and every night, we’d comb it out again. The second day, I found a few more that I had missed, but we were obviously past the worst of it. We did the murder shampoo again on day 10, and for good measure, I combed her out again. But yeah, the horror was over.
Until I checked her oldest brother’s head.
About Jessica Timmons
Jessica Timmons is a work-from-home mama, which sounds awesome until you actually try to do it. She’s been on this crazy ride for the last 10 years, juggling the busy little lives of her four kids, a handful of regular accounts and her long-term side gig as a kickboxing instructor, and the truth is, she just makes it all up as she goes. Doesn’t everyone? Check out her website, www.jessicatimmons.com, to see what she’s doing at work these days.