It had been fairly stressful at work that day, and I could feel my blood pressure surge as I checked my email and read the ominous subject line, all in caps: “HEAD LICE/NITS HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED IN YOUR CHILD’S CLASS.”
I put my head in my hands. “Here we go again,” I hissed.
You see, just a few months ago, in late June, I was walking my five-year-old daughter Chloe to the park to play when I suddenly noticed her vigorously scratching her head. I stopped her to take a look, and with the advantage of natural light, was able to immediately spot the large louse moving quickly through her hair.
“Here we go again,” I muttered under my breath.
You see, a few years ago, I’d gone through a seemingly endless cycle of lice infestation with my middle child, who was around 9 when it first began, as it normally does, at school.
When I found them on her, my first thought was to try the drugstore treatments. I’d had lice one time as a child, in Grade 4, and my mother quickly eliminated it using them, so they must work, right?
I thought something was odd when, after applying the treatment and following the instructions, during the comb-through, I was still pulling out live lice (a sight that is truly disgusting to behold), wiggling and squirming, evidently fighting for life.
But I wasn’t sure. So I followed up with a second treatment within 10 days, as instructed, only to find a few weeks later, several bugs in her hair again. And I repeated the process, to end up with the same result.
Her father and I, who have been separated for years, didn’t have the full facts about the drugstore chemical solutions – their safety is questionable and they don’t, in fact, work. They’re simply ineffective.
Lice have built an immunity to these products, and what we eventually learned when we turned to a professional company for help in finally eliminating this problem, which had spread to me and all members of the family, is that key to permanently getting rid of the buggers is careful combing and removal of all remaining nits. This is no small task.
Beyond the inconvenience of extra laundry, it requires a considerable amount of time and patience spent combing through hair, sometimes for several days, to ensure all bugs and nits are gone. But it took me, and her father, a bit of time to absorb that message completely.
It was a couple of years before we finally figured it out, and my third child had just been born. Now, that child is in prime lice-attracting mode, being in Grade 1 and attending daycare, where I notice the kids enjoying hugging and being physically close as they play. And I cringe.
Back to last summer, and my odd relapse into the old “maybe I’ll just buy the treatment and get rid of it quickly” mindset. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.
Treatments for her – and me, as I quickly discovered I had it too – were again ineffective, and I once again turned to professionals for help. This time, we went through several sessions and I received a thorough explanation of what to do – and how to try and prevent this scourge, the bane of my existence.
I spent hundreds of dollars to clear our whole family, once again, of lice. And now, I vow I will never end up in that situation again.
The night I received that email from the school, I brought Chloe immediately home, saturated her hair with conditioner, and combed through her hair until I could finally be confident that she doesn’t have any lice or nits –YET.
And now, that little girl goes off to school every day with her hair pulled back in a tight braid, her hair, jacket collar and hat sprayed with tea tree oil, which smells ungodly.
No matter. I’m going to do everything I can to keep our home lice-free – and my sanity intact – for as long as possible.