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It’s the Gift That Keeps on Giving

November 2, 2011

As a child, there are many rites of passage.  You lose your first tooth, learn to ride a bike, get your first kiss, and fall in love.  There are skinned knees, broken hearts, and toppled ice cream cones.  If you’re a parent, you remember going through each one and revel in and cringe at each passing milestone.

Most of us also remember at least one time when our parents combed every hair on our head, because someone at school was infested with lice.

Gross, right?  I’m itching just thinking about it.  The thought of even a single louse is revolting.  The thing is, they always come in pairs and often in droves, affecting every human in their path (apparently, pets can’t get lice.  Who knew? Well, there is a separate strain that gets birds, but that’s another story).

We have had two such experiences in our family.  Once, The Boy got it, and we were in a house full of adults and children, out of town over Winter Break.  We panicked a little, treated him, covered his head in olive oil and a shower cap and sent him to bed.  No one else in the house got it, which we considered our Christmas miracle.

Fast forward to last weekend.  We are on our family trip to D.C.  It was a great trip.  We went to the White House, the Capitol, various branches of the Smithsonian, and the presidential memorials.  We walked, shopped and ate good food.  We also discovered lice.  Dammit.

It had been such an easy weekend, with The Kids being an age that makes travel enjoyable even.  Sunday morning, we awoke to find The Girl’s hair especially disheveled, and she was scratching furiously.  Uh oh.  Upon quick inspection, it was determined that she probably was afflicted.  We quickly packed the car, knowing that when we returned to Augusta we’d have some work to do.

We traced out steps.  The first thought, naturally, is that we picked it up in D.C., mingling with the general public, and using public transportation.   But because I’ve done a little research in the past, we knew that the incubation period was much longer than that.  We brought it from Augusta.

A conversation with my dear friend Jason sums it up well.

“Wait.  You got lice from the White House?”  He was gob smacked.  What a crappy souvenir.

“No, we gave it to the White House.   And the Capitol.  And the Smithsonian.  WE GAVE LICE TO ABE LINCOLN.”  I guess that’s one way to express any distaste for the current state of the US economy.  Oh STOP.  Don’t go calling the Secret Service or anything.  I didn’t do it on purpose.

So there’s that, too.  Not only does my little girl have dirty bugs in her hair, but we unknowingly passed it along.  My kids are really good at playing with others, but this wasn’t what I had in mind when I taught them lessons about sharing.

We got home Sunday night, after a long nine hour drive and still had to “treat” the lice.  The Kids, Mama, and The Man were all whipped, but we prevailed.  We spent the next hour sitting on the bathroom counter, combing every single hair on their precious little heads.  The Boy even suggested family buzz cuts to avoid the tediousness of it all next time.  Dear God, please don’t let there be a next time.

I kept them out of school one more day, treating them one more time and rewashing their hair.  They enjoyed the extra day of vacation, and I felt better knowing that we (hopefully) didn’t pass this along to another family.

Everything you read says that lice like clean hair.  Getting lice isn’t something that happens to dirty people.  Yeah, sure, and they tell brides that wedding day rain is good luck.   If clean hair keeps the bugs at bay, we’re moving to a weekly bathing plan.   KIDDING.

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