Thursday, May 14, 2015

That Time My Kids Got Head Lice Twice in One Summer

Let me set the scene: July Fourth Weekend 2014, Juneau, Alaska.

I’ve just returned from a punishing two-week federal trial 500 miles north-west in Anchorage. I’m watching the Fourth of July parade with my kids. It’s 45 degrees and raining, which is typical July 4 weekend weather for Southeast Alaska. Paige and Isaac are gleefully jumping up and down, lunging at desiccated salt-water taffy thrown from passing floats and fire trucks like it was gold bullion. Geoff is indisposed all day, managing the preschool “Lemonachos” (lemonade/nachos) fund-raising stand on Douglas Island, several miles away. 


Yup, it's like Norman fucking Rockwell up in this bitch (minus the weather).
Just as I’m starting to relish the fact that I’m no longer locked in acrimonious professional battle for 8 hours a day, I happen to glance down at the top of Paige's head. There I glimpse several unmistakable little white dots, which I instantly recall from my own childhood traumas can mean one thing, and one thing only.

Lice. 

The word alone is enough to trigger a wave of dread, nausea, and panicked head-scratching.

Well, SHIT BURGERS!

I immediately text Geoff, as if there's anything he can do about it. “Dude . . . Paige has LICE!” The response: “Oh really? Now that you mention it she has been scratching her head for a few days.”

The FUCK?! Thanks a lot for the welcome home gift, buddy!

Unlike NYC, Juneau is not exactly a hotbed of 24-hour holiday options for pest eradication. So I go to the only open store in town, and pick up a bottle of RID. Because I am not fucking around here. No olive oil. No garlic. This isn't The Olive Garden with its bottomless bread sticks, and I'm not making a frittata for fuck's sake. Nope. These motherfuckers are going to Hiroshima, not Berkeley. Even if it means my grandchildren will be born with octopus tentacles instead of legs 25 years from now.

Several hours later, I’ve got both kids in the bathtub, drenched in toxic chemicals and wailing like banshees. “You can watch whatever movie you want in FIVE minutes. I PROMISE. Just hold still.” 


I get them out of the tub and plop them down in front of I can’t remember what Netflix piece of crap. I start combing toxic grease with a metal comb and feel a strange sense of satisfaction as I hunt down drowning insects and pluck little white eggs off the kids' heads one by one, lining up my quarry on a napkin. The only thing separating me and a mama chimpanzee at this point is the fact that I'm not actually eating the bugs I find.

When people discover your kids have lice, they try to make you feel better while secretly suppressing disgust and backing away slowly: "The cleanest kids in the WORLD get lice!," they say. "It’s a MYTH that lice is only for dirty people!," they say.

Yeah. Just like "you can't get AIDS from a toothbrush" was a myth in 1988. No one believes that shit. The lice myths persist like they were written by Zeus himself, and my already tenuous reputation as an upstanding and sanitary parent is in grave jeopardy. I can’t have my family shunned from the community! On whom would I pawn off my children?

So I did as instructed on the box of toxins (boxins?) and while listening to the album “Check Your Head” by the Beastie Boys (this wasn't technically part of the directions, although it should be), I fumigated numerous fabrics in my home, checked the kids’ heads for the next ten days, rinse and repeat, and we’re home free.

Weeeelll, Not so fast, sister.

Scene Two: August, 2014, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

We’re back east for a wedding. A fancy wedding. In fact, everything about this whole trip is fancy, or at least fancy by a-decade-of-living-in-Alaska standards. The friends who were kind enough to host us for several days live in an immaculate, uncluttered home with furniture that wouldn't seem out of place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and they have three immaculate, perfectly behaved children.

Well, wouldn't you know it, we are off on a day trip visiting another immaculate house of other friends who live in the area, and I'm finally settling into a nice wine buzz, when I look down, and--REDUX! More eggs in Paige's hair! How the fuck did this happen AGAIN


A series of frantic texts to friends back home quickly provides the answer. It was the usual suspects. Girl Scout Camp and their girly camaraderie, and Paige was far from the only victim. Damn you, Girl Scout Camp! You and your head lice are my Kaizer Soze!

Distraught, I shoo Geoff and the other husband/dad in the couple out to CVS pronto for more poison while I break it to the Mrs. that what we thought was going to be a nice afternoon of getting drunk and catching up is now turning into the fumigation of her lovely home and all of our children. And then there was the phone call to the friends we were staying with, where we put our heads and bodies on their nice guestroom pillows and near their clean, well-groomed children for the past four days.

All three of their kids happened to be getting haircuts that day, and were given a clean bill of health. The family was remarkably gracious under the circumstances, and declined to evict us. With our (questionably de-loused) heads hung in shame, we left the next morning as originally scheduled and tried not to think about the unwelcome parting gift we'd left the City of Philadelphia.

Exeunt.


Image result for lice

No comments:

Post a Comment