I’ve never had to deal with lice before. I’ve been doing this parenting thing in various ways for a decade and a half – never had lice. I grew up in a house of five boys who were not shy to get out there and wrestle and play rugby and otherwise put themselves in the ideal sorts of situations to spread things head to head – no lice.
So when my eldest came to me last Tuesday to say that his head was itchy, I basically ignored it. I told him that a good hair wash, comb, and maybe some skin lotion rubbed into his scalp would more than likely fix him right up. On Thursday though, his head was still itchy. “Look at it,” he said. “It’s like things are moving in my hair.”
That’s when the possibility first occurred to me. Lice? In our house? Really? It only took about five seconds to confirm. Lice. In our house. Really. I checked the other two. Lice! In our house! Really!
I don’t often call my wife home from work, but this was one of those times. I asked her to pick up a bottle of treatment on her way, and then to start on decontaminating things, while I brushcut the kids, treated their hair, and picked through their heads with combs.
We did all the things you’re supposed to do. We called all the friends they’d played with recently to give them the heads up. We called all the kids they were to play with shortly to postpone plans. We washed all the clothes and bedding, vacuumed all the soft surfaces, and disinfected all the helmets and whatnot. It was a mountain of work. I’m glad my wife managed to get the rest of the day off.
She and I were both fortunately lice free (which is a miracle considering how often my youngest comes in to cuddle in the morning), but I started to get paranoid. Every little itch seemed a sure sign I was infested. I had to resist the urge to go through my own head with the nit comb at every twinge. It was worse when I was checking the kids’ head each morning. My scalp seemed to crawl with itches.
It’s been pretty much a week now though, and no signs of recurrence. I’m starting to relax, at least enough to realize that there were some positive side effects of all that work. My house hasn’t been so clean in ages. I can’t remember the last time we simultaneously washed all the bedding, vacuumed all the furniture, and aired out all the rugs.
I may still be a bit paranoid whenever my head itches, but it was almost worth it to see all that cleaning done at once.
Luke Hill has been the parent of birth kids, adoptive kids, foster kids, and just-need-a-place-to-stay kids for fourteen years. He’s had experience with kids in homeschool, public schools, and alternative schools. He’s been a teacher, a camp counsellor, and a coach. He’s also taught parenting courses for Children’s Aid for almost a decade. When he isn’t working with kids, he’s a writer, a publisher, and the director of a non-profit organization that supports book culture.