In a word: Lice

I wish I could say I looked half as glamorous as this right now. Actually, it’s Pearl who is wearing the purple shower cap; mine is light pink and Aviva’s is hot pink. Next to each other in my bed, their heads look like neon muffin tops on the pillows, which are covered with towels.

I lost count of how many loads of laundry, and shudder to think of how much we tacked on to the hot water and gas bills for the month in the course of a single day.

I spent an hour and a half combing through Aviva’s thick hair while we watched “Up” again – and still found more lice and nits tonight. It is mind-blowing how tiny the newly hatched ones are, and even more mind-blowing that after a little while of looking, you can actually get pretty damn good at finding them. Not exactly the kind of thing you aspire to being good at, though there is a certain satisfaction to nabbing the nasty buggers.

All that said, I’m not messing around with earth-friendly, non-toxic, feel-good solutions like Cetaphil and coconut oil and mayonnaise and vinegar rinses. No ma’am, after a bout with lice about five years ago when I was pregnant with Pearl and V was three – one that took a couple of months on and off to finally end – we are sleeping with Nix on our heads. Thus the showercaps.

For as maddening as lice are, and disgusting I might add, one good thing came out of the day: Aviva, Pearl and I spent pretty much the whole day together. And not just together moving around each other, or together squawking or squabbling (though there was some of that), but together with a shared mission. It began in the locker room at the Y this morning after an hour or so in the pool – and Pearlie swimming ON HER OWN for the first time – when Aviva said she was so itchy, and I realized I’ve been so itchy, and suddenly I though, Oh fuck. Her teacher sent home notice of a case of lice a couple of weeks ago, but I recycled it, probably hoping that doing so would grant us lice immunity.

But as soon as I parted her hair, I saw it (or should I say “them”) without a doubt, then checked Pearl, then understood why I emerged from a shower yesterday with such intense red scratch marks on my neck.

Let me interrupt myself to say that I realize you are probably all itchy now just reading this. Should just serve to remind all of us that the mind has a lot of power to make us feel things, as does suggestion, as do images and associations.

So I/we mapped out the rest of the day, a plan of attack if you will, then went to Mirabelle’s and got breakfast despite the fact that I have been spending money on eating out way more than I have any right to at the moment, given that Greg is self-employed still, and while I am grateful to have a salary, we are in the midst of such a massive life transition that realistically, neither of us should be spending a penny beyond the absolute bare necessities – like the hot dryer it takes to kill, kill, kill the nits.

But the other reality is that sitting in the window at Mirabelle’s with my girls at noon on a Sunday, shoring ourselves up to tackle the lice agenda, was so lovely. They got chocolate chip pancakes and fruit and I ate two eggs sunnyside up with toast and a double latte, and we enjoyed each other’s company. Then we went to the drugstore and home for our first round of lice treatment. This all went down before our neighbor informed me that the overnight Nix route is the only way to go (which I confirmed is safe with our pediatrician). So we washed and wrapped and combed and picked and snacked and watched, then went to Hannaford to get the serious stuff as well as actual groceries, came home for dinner, changed several more loads of laundry, lit the menorahs, did another round of hair treatments, and got in bed, our three bright shower caps all in a row.

There are other posts I could write of course, one about where Greg was in the midst of all of this, his Hanukkah gift to me (a beautiful mezuzah, by a local artist, presumably for a new home), which I opened without him;

or one about how Aviva’s intuition floored me once again last night as she picked up exactly what was happening with me (despite knowing none of it), and this opened up into a brief but somewhat groundbreaking and unusually open conversation between us about anger;

or last night’s dream, which found me with lots of other people on a boat, a big boat, like a ferry or a cruise ship, on this mighty river I’ve been seeing in dreams for many months now, and then lots of other boats around us, and a huge, huge whale, just awe-inspiring in size, so big that the boat was like a toy in the water and suddenly I saw that we were actually *on* the whale’s back, like Amos the mouse in Amos and Boris, one of my favorite children’s books. And then it was as if I was watching a movie, and I thought to myself, “Oh come on – a whale that big would cause some kind of massive tidal wave,” whereas the water was actually quite placid.

But the lice just brought it all home, literally. I won’t go so far as to say they were a blessing. There was nothing to process, there were no plans or activities to concoct. It was, in a twisted way, kind of freeing to have such a clearly defined task at hand, one that left absolutely no room or discussion or decision-making, but rather required a mama to sit for hours with her daughters, actually paying attention.

4 thoughts on “In a word: Lice

  1. tekeal says:

    “It was, in a twisted way, kind of freeing to have such a clearly defined task at hand, one that left absolutely no room or discussion or decision-making…”
    I can really appreciate the gift of such tasks. ‘forced’ to be in the moment. I need them alot these days. sleep well!


  2. skippyjonjones says:

    This is an amazing post, in SO many ways.

    Sending lice-free hugs of Love and Light and Peace to you all this day.


    P.S. Kids at the center where I work have had them lately as well. One girl (whom I believe is of Nigerian descent) told us she had to go to the ER over the weekend “because my hair was moving”. Gross and funny all at the same time. :-0



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