Lice Lessons

Nitpicking (verb): Fussy or pedantic fault finding

Unfortunately, last year I had first hand experience with the origin of the phrase: nit picking. You haven’t lived until you have  picked through every strand of your child’s hair to get out hundreds of eggs smaller than the full stop (period) at the end of this sentence. GROSS.

There is a little green sheet of paper that comes home practically every two weeks from my daughter’s school-

Lice have been confirmed in your child’s class .  . .

Oh great. The little blood sucking invisible creatures that drive me crazy. I am so obsessed with checking my 5 year old’s hair that she actually thinks it is my new hobby. I was putting her to bed one night and she was trying to delay the inevitable:

“One more story?  . . . One more song? . . . One more cuddle? . . . One more stuffed animal?” Sound familiar? Then she dropped this incentive, “I’ll let you look for lice!” The other day she got even more creative.  She asked if we could make a deal: I would get to look for lice if she got to eat an ice cream. Being a mother sure has its thrills.

When I discovered the lice for the first time, I was absolutely horrified. What’s the lice etiquette? Do you call every person you have come into contact with for the last week and fess up?  I had a washing machine about the size of an American tub of ice cream and no clothes dryer, so washing every piece off bed linen was especially exciting. I had sheets and blankets hanging off of every radiator, chair, and table. My house looked like a blanket fort castle.

I did the walk of shame at the chemist and desperately grabbed the pharmacist who recommended either the electric comb, lice shampoo or a “nitty gritty” comb. To be on the safe side, I bought one of everything.  About £40 later, I had a plan to irradicate these lice. I was armed and pissed off. Not on my watch bugs.

Dr. Seuss wrote, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” but I am going to write, “Oh the Things You Can Find in a 5 Year Old’s Hair.” The electric lice comb buzzes when an object obstructs its path. Glitter, small pieces of fuzz, yarn, and dirt all buzzed making me extremely antsy (no pun intended).  I bought the 15 minute shampoo solution, but an entire movie on the IPad in the bathtub ensured that they were dead dead. I used the nitty gritty comb and a preventative spray and repeated treatment every week for about a month just to make sure. If a green sheet of paper came home, I just gave her a treatment to be safe. I bet your head starts itching just reading this post. Mine is.

I loved having to notify the office that my kid had an outbreak. The green sheet came home in my daughter’s backpack one afternoon. “Here you go mum,” she said as she handed it to me, “but I think you already know about it.”

She has had lice several times, and I am determined to never have them as bad as the first time. Here’s the thing about lice. I braid her hair almost everyday. I help her wash her hair, blow dry it, brush it, divide into sections and style it, but I have never seen one of these creatures unless I’m specifically looking for them. I’ve never just been able to catch one going about our regular hair maintenance. How scary.

And here is what I learned. You can have really nasty problems in your life and not even know about it. You can fix a problem and it can reappear a week later.  Not knowing my child had lice, put all her friends at risk. My community potentially suffers when I’m not actively resolving my own issues. Admitting you are the source of a problem is really humbling, too.

So this got me thinking. (When you nit pick, you have lots of time to think.) What other areas of my life have huge problems that I haven’t recognised yet? How are these problems impacting other people, and am I admitting the areas in my life that I have weaknesses?

Is it a good idea to go through your own life with a fine tooth comb? I have a tendency to be my own worst critic sometimes, but I’m thinking this is different. Is my pride in check? How is my attitude towards my husband? What areas am I self-centered in? This is why I like reading the Bible. It gives me some space to look at my life carefully. It’s a nitty gritty life comb. Sorry Jesus for  comparing  your holy book to a lice treatment. 

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