Lice Do Not Last Forever. Your Kid Is Going To Be Ok.

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If there is one thing that everyone in the whole world knows about me, it’s that I am the most hyperbolic person ever and that I exaggerate more than anyone else all the time. The downside to this is that people tend to wave off my claims of descending into hell on any given day, when I launch into stories like; My Child’s Tamagotchi: My Descent into Hell or We Ran Out Of Paper Towels: My Descent into Hell. I can understand this. It’s a bit like crying wolf. However, if you have a child in daycare or school, chances are that you’ve traversed the outer rings of the inferno with a nit comb in hand and will probably agree that there’s no punishment for all the earthly wrong you’ve done that is more horrifying than having a child with lice.

Let me tell you the tale of my woe.

It was just after school began, about two weeks into the term, when I got the phone call. I hadn’t showered yet, and I was just settling down to eat my Lunchables when the phone rang, piercing my reverie.  Upon answering, a voice spoke to me from faraway.

“This is the nurse at Duckie’s school,” said a drawl, “Your daughter’s head itches.”

“Oh shiitake mushrooms on falafel,” I replied, “its lice, isn’t it?”

My heartbeat echoed in my ears.

“Yes, it’s lice.”

A lot of things went through my mind. The first was to wonder what I had done so wrong in a past life that my child should have contracted head lice. The second was to wonder if I still had time to eat my Lunchables. The third was to call my husband.

Now, I only call my husband home for super duper important stuff. For instance, once when my daughter was two, I was vacuuming to the dulcet tones of Freddie Mercury, lost in a blissful trance of how awesome my carpet was about to look, when on a vigorous backswing I felt the unmistakable jolt of the vacuum handle connecting with a two year old’s face at top speed. I don’t do blood under any circumstances, so he needed to get home ASAP.

The only other time was when I saw a wasp. I also don’t do wasps under any circumstances, it was July in Texas, and if I wanted to not die of heatstroke, my husband had to come kill it so I could get into the apartment. Yes, it was actually a skeeter eater, and no, my husband wasn’t thrilled that we had to pay $200.00 for the crappy single-paned window he broke while eliminating the threat, but what if it had been a wasp? Exactly.

You can reach this post's author, Theresa Edwards, on twitter.
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    • LiteBrite

      My head itches just reading this.

      When I was a kid, a lice epidemic went through my siblings’ elementary school. My parents went on a 24-hour cleaning marathon. They had four kids; it had to be done. A lice epidemic just went through my nieces’ school a couple of weeks ago. My sister is absolutely amazed her kids didn’t contract it. I’m waiting for the day I have to go through it.

      Ugh. Lice can die in a fire. Literally.

      • Ptownsteveschick

        Setting my hair on fire, that honestly sounds like a good idea when dealing with lice. No sarcasm. I’ll just buy a wig.

    • CMJ

      We spent the night at our cousin’s house and they didn’t tell my mom she had lice. When I put my head on her pillow, she told me – “Oh, don’t lie on my pillow, I have swimmer’s ear!” Too late. Both myself and my sister got lice….then my mom.

      The only good thing that came out of it was the song my sister and I made up to the tune of “Tequila” –

      Get off my bed assassin, you’re going to get some lice. And it’s not gonna be nice. You’ll have to scrrrruuub your hair. And waaasssshh it too. You’re going to have to use Pronto Two.

      (Yes, I still remember this song. Word for word.)

      ETA: Pronto Two was (is?) a lice shampoo.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Ugh my sister sent her kid to my house with a full blown case. When we put the kid in the lice shower the floor literally looked like brown snow, there were that many. It was horrifying. Of course, I got it, too. My sister KNEW she had it, but thought it was cured (although the cure had failed like 5 times, so I’m not sure why she thought it was over). I still may kill my sister over this.

      • Guest

        I would murder my siblings if they ever sent a lice infested kid over. Muuuuurddddeeeerrr

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Somehow I’ve restrained myself thus far but it was touch and go for a while there :)

      • Emil

        That is completely unacceptable. I hope you are planning some sort of revenge.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Little did I know, she was sending the kid WITH the lice shampoo so she could give herself her final treatment. On her way to my house, my niece also stayed with another sister and our parents, so she gave it to three households. My elderly (and ill) father got headlice. Everybody pondered murder. I should probably just get her children the world’s most obnoxious stray puppy/puppies?

    • Crusty Socks

      “…I am the most hyperbolic person ever…

      I cosine this statement

      • the_ether

        That deserves a slow clap that morphs into a standing ovation

    • Kay_Sue

      I’ve never had lice. My sisters both got sent home from school with it many years ago. I was in high school, driving myself back and forth to school, and I remember walking in the front room after school to both of them crying about bugs in their hair. I stormed back to where my mother was cleaning up their room, and in a feral rage, cried, “YOU! ME! MINE! NOW!”

      I promise, I was not a brat. I had hair to my waist at that point and I was utterly terrified because my life would be OVER, OVER, SIMPLY OVER, YOU KNOW, if I had to miss school because of lice.

      Her best friend was the same way as the lady you mention at the end though–calm, serene, knew exactly what to do, said, “Hey, it happens all the time.” I’d hope that I would be the calm one if it happened to my kids….but given my prior history…probably not…

      • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

        I never had it either. I did have lots of other gross stuff, though, like ringworm. Kids be nasty.

      • Kay_Sue

        I got ringworm once. That is an experience that I don’t want to repeat ever. I’m dreading the day that my kids bring it home, because I know it is bound to happen.

      • Ptownsteveschick

        Haha, I got ringworm from working at the Veterinary clinic, and then treated myself with the same topical we used for the animals. I would take ringworm over lice any day.

      • moonie27

        One of my brothers got it and we all got treated, whether we needed it or not. I don’t think I actually had it, but I had to get shampooed and everything.

      • Kay_Sue

        I managed to escape getting treated. I’m really finnicky about my hair supplies though–I kept everything separate, even then. I can’t use anything someone else has used. It’s one of my tics. Yay for disordered thinking! They, on the other hand, shared a room, went to the same middle school, swapped hair brushes and ties back and forth…it was a veritable time bomb waiting to go off.

    • drinkpepsi

      You all are so pedestrian.

      You should hire a Lice cleaning service, like Mommyish resident writer Rebecca Eckler does.

      For only $400 a pop, someone else can clean your kid’s hair so all you have to do is sit back, relax, and complain about how terrible it is.

      Jokes. And sigh.

      • CMJ

        This writer, who is not Eckler, paid that much money….I’m confused as to what your point is?

      • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

        I felt like such a rube after, too. The lice shampoo works just fine. It was my first time, so I panicked!

      • Kay_Sue

        My mom did lice shampoos, and she also took them out in the yard to pick nits. Apparently, you can see them really really clearly in the sunlight.

      • CMJ

        My dad was a biology teacher and we had microscopes in the house…my dad totally used it.

      • Kay_Sue

        I don’t blame him. They can reinfect so fast if you miss any. Bleck!

      • CMJ

        Uh, don’t feel badly. Lice is nothing to mess around with….you gotta do what you gotta do. I was in a musical with kids and one of them got lice…and can tell you, without a doubt, I would pay for someone to deal with it.

      • drinkpepsi

        Does the school nurse get a kick-back from the Lice Lady?

      • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

        I’m starting to believe she must.

      • Valerie

        I would sell my body on the streets if it meant getting rid of lice. Just sayin.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Man, we’ve had it. AND I WOULD pay that much if we had it again if there was a place around here to deal with it for me. It is a freaking nightmare. I might shave my head before I dealt with it again.

      • Kay_Sue

        Do we need to drag Eckler into every column? It seems tedious.

      • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

        Eckler has a post at 3!

      • Kay_Sue

        I will have to make sure that I actually get off of here and get everything done that needs done so I can have a few drinks and watch the comments. It goes so nutty so fast………….

      • drinkpepsi

        To be fair to the posters, it gets nutty even before the commenting begins…

      • drinkpepsi

        That means she will begin crafting her fine masterpiece at 2:48 pm.

      • elle

        I would pay 5X that to let somebody else deal with the horror show that is lice.

      • Rosa

        Whoever came up with the idea to charge money to take lice out of hair is a genius.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        I just can’t imagine that being my job….how would you feel lice free when you go home?

    • Ptownsteveschick

      I need a nope nope gif right now, because I can’t even read the title without starting to itch and contemplate shaving my kid’s head all thru elementary school. I had such bad lice as a kid, I think I have ptsd, I kept telling my mom I was itchy, she said it was probably just dandruff.Until I picked a bug off my head and showed her. AHH. The itching, the itching….noooooo.

      • CMJ

        Seriously, my head has been itching since I read the title.

      • Kay_Sue

        Yeah, I’m about to go take another shower and comb my hair thoroughly……

      • Emily A.

        Here’s my favorite:

        http://gph.is/175t90L

    • Bethany Ramos

      I HAVE HAD LICE TWICE. I am very proud of this. :)

      • Crusty Socks

        last year and when else?

        ;P

      • Bethany Ramos

        Elementary school, I swear!

    • MegzWray

      First question (I’m only on page 2)…What is a “Skeeter Eater”?

      • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

        A cranefly. I don’t know if they really eat mosquitos, but that’s what I’m told. Here’s what it looks like:

        http://readjack.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/cranefly-hand.jpg

      • Kay_Sue

        I HATE THOSE THINGS. I HATE HATE HATE HATE THEM. I know they are harmless, but they give me the skeevies.

      • Jessie

        OH MY GOD THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME KNOW I AM NOT ALONE.
        I swear, my husband and everybody we know are all convinced that my sister and I are insane for being so utterly bloody terrified of these things. Like we will literally squeak in fear and duck for cover if we happpen to notice that one has ninja’d its way into the house (seriously they are ninjas; we can have the entire house locked down tighter than Fort Knox and they will STILL FIND A WAY IN TO TERRORIZE US). My fear of them has lessened from when I was a child and would not be able to sleep is I knew one was in the house somewhere, but they still give me the freaky-deakies like nobody’s business.

      • Kay_Sue

        They are creepy. Your reactions are totally valid. Let no one convince you differently. *nods solemnly*

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Anything with legs that are all long and skeevy and flop around like that creep me out. Daddy long-legs and walking sticks scare me. These are basically daddy-long-legs with wings to terrorize more people with.

      • Kay_Sue

        Yes! I am right there with you. Except for the walking sticks–I find those oddly fascinating. But I don’t like daddy long-legs, either. Bleck.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        I find the walking sticks fascinating, too, as long as they stay the fuck away from me. They’re cool from a distance. I have an aunt whose trees literally get coated with them in the fall. It must be some mating grounds…… This makes me shiver to think about.

      • MegzWray

        Well that is ugly. #twitch

      • Valerie

        Oh God oh God oh God. 6 feet of snow or not, I don’t think I could ever leave NY. I run screaming at the sound of a Junebug. No idea how I would live through that unholy creature.

      • NotTakenNotAvailable

        Welp. I’m staying the fuck outta Texas forever.

      • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

        Texas is the Australia of America.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Theresa I love everything you write so much. I would also like to read both My Child’s Tamagotchi: My Descent into Hell or We Ran Out Of Paper Towels: My Descent into Hell TY

      • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

        The bee-BEEP sound that kinotchi makes to let you know that he’s dropped a deuce onscreen haunts my dreams.

      • Zoe Lansing

        Looking back,I pretty sure living with my sister and my simultaneous Tamagotchi obsessions in 1997 probably felt much like a descent into hell for my parents. Those things were life-suckers.

    • Maggie May

      My oldest brought home lice from school once – she and another girl had the same hat and accidentally swapped. I got her bug free fairly easily, but it took my husband 4 hours to comb thru my hair. I was just so glad that the little ones were still bald at that point.

    • Kheldarson

      …And this is why my son is going to have a buzz cut through elementary school. *resisting scratching head full of curls*

      • Jessie

        He can still get lice even with a buzz. I had a few male friends in school who did. Short of shaving his head to a glossy, bald dome, any kid with hair stands a risk of infestation. Short hair CAN at least be easier to treat, though. Easier to see if the bugs and eggs are all gone, and all.

      • JLH1986

        The ONLY family vacation we went on, my bro and I shared the pull out. He had a shaved head. I got head lice and he got scabies. I was 16 and he was 13. So shaved head may not help. I just had the awful comb and shampoo. My bro had to got the dr. poor kid.

    • elle

      Ugh I have hair exactly like your daughters and I too got the worst case of lice ever. It took weeks to eradicate it and I’m not sure fancy lice combers existed 12 years ago (probably did, just not as ubiquitous) but my mom would have emptied her checking account to have somebody else get rid of it. Instead she chopped off like 6 inches of my hair….I’m itchy just thinking about it. Just be vigilant checking her to make sure you got rid of all the nits!

    • Roberta

      Fun fact: When I was 7 I had just finished a bought of lice, and was annoying my mom (really a past-time of all 7-year olds). As I stalked off to my room, she shouts out “COOTIE-HEAD!”. To this day, 16 years later we use it as a term on endearment.

      Lice: turning families in to name-tossing anarchy since the Middle Ages.

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        My mom calls me “Critters” still from when I had the bad luck of catching them in Turkey!
        Try dry scorching your head with a hairdryer in 48 degree heat!

    • Jessie

      This article gave me flashbacks. *shudder*
      My little sister and I both got lice when we were in elementary school, thanks to this being before the days when schools would send out notices of a contagious outbreak of any sort. My sister was fortunate to have very fine hair at the time, so getting rid of her infestation was a breeze. Mine… Not so much. I didn’t have wavy or curly hair, but it WAS thick as molasses and a royal bitch to comb out in the normal scheme of things. My lice was so bad that it literally took MONTHS of my mother scorching the entire family’s clothes and bedding in the dryer, wrapping everything we could in plastic covers, and practically DROWNING me in lice removal shampoo, scouring my head with that comb, and scorching my head with a hot hair dryer to finally break the cycle. At one point I reinfested my sister, and I felt so bad that I almost begged my mom to just chop all my hair off and make me bald (I was about 8 years old or so, and a very sensitive child who hated to hurt others). I was pretty traumatized, and when you combine that with the mild psoriasis that runs in my family on my scalp, for a while afterward was convinced that I perpetually had lice even though it was basically just dandruff.

      I pray you and your family never face this hell again.

    • Emily A.

      My dog had fleas a couple of years ago (crucial info: Frontline is only guaranteed if you buy it from a vet.). It went on for weeks and I wanted to burn the house down. If (when?) the kids get lice I am going to have to move to the moon.

    • Crusty Socks

      See Beth, this is one of the benefits of having only boys. If they get lice, just shave their head and tell people you messed up cutting their hair yourself trying to save money so you just shaved it off.

      • Valerie

        I let my husband give our son a buzzcut even though I think it makes him look like a tiny prison gang member for this very reason. Keeping it buzzed supposedly prevents lice.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I had lice twice growing up! They did regular checks at school and the daycare. I sometimes got back in line for more so someone could play with my hair.
      There was no stigma to it that I could remember. Anyone could easily get it and then you get sent home from school, which was fun.

      • Ellen W.

        I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a regional/climate thing to the lice stuff. Because I’m pretty sure (not totally sure, just pretty sure) that lice didn’t go around my elementary school all that much. There were probably a couple of cases, but no classroom-wide outbreaks. I wonder if the Mediterranean climate is the reason? At the very least we didn’t wear a lot of hats because it wasn’t super cold for months and months.

        Anyway I really wanted to comment because I used to get my babysitters to play with my hair when I was little. It’s just so relaxing!

      • NotTakenNotAvailable

        I wondered about the regionalism, too. I can’t seem to recall any lice outbreaks plaguing my elementary school back in the day (and I would have TRIED to contract the little buggers if I could’ve. No extreme was too far for the sake of getting out of school :/ ). I grew up in Denver, where it *did* get super cold, but maybe they just don’t like the altitude or the dry air.

    • Valerie

      I am beside myself right now and my cheeks hurt from cry-laughing.The Lady Macbeth reference was my personal fave because I have used it before and cannot believe there is another person on this planet in my age group who does as well. I desperately needed this laugh today so thanks. :-)

    • Valerie

      Oh, and I was raised Snobby Style and totally believed up until embarrassingly recently that lice only affected the poor and dirty. Now I check my kids often because I feel like Karma Lice are going to strike any day now to mock my former holier-than-thou attitude toward hair parasites.

    • radicalhw

      My husband is still complaining of the week of his life he lost picking lice out of not only my daughter’s hair but MINE too.

    • Rosa

      Thirty years have gone by and when something bad happens my sister will still say, “well at least it’s not as bad as that time we all had lice”.

    • aCongaLine

      Way back when, I worked at a sleep away summer camp (for many years… and it was awesome). My job during check in? Check everyone’s head for lice. In my 7 years on staff, I found 3 cases of lice, and they were NASTY. I saw a lot of wildly insane dandruff, as well… also insanely NASTY. I had to be coached on how to not react with disgust.

      Bugs are gross, man. SO is dandruff. And dried shampoo that hasn’t been properly washed out. So gross.

      Easily fixable, though. But gross nontheless.

      • SA

        “I had to be coached on how to not react with disgust”…hilarious! That would have been me too!

    • TngldBlue

      I thought lice was bad until I experienced the horror that is a child with pinworm. I remember weeping because I had to wash everything every day and I was so damn tired of doing laundry. I seriously considered burning the house down but refused to let those nasty bastards beat me. It took 6 weeks, many gallons of bleach, and near constant dry heaves but dammit I won that war. My conclusion? Kids are f’ing gross.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        My kids have had both. I can’t decide which is worse. Either one is a freaking nightmare. And after your house is finally rid of them you don’t ever want to let anyone else in it…

    • val97

      My sister gave all of us scabies! I was in high school at the time. I think I’m still mad at her.

    • Ro

      I got lice while travelling through Brazil. I was on my own and had no one to pick out the eggs. It was awful, awful… awfuuuuul!!! I just combed my hair with that comb hundreds of times a day like a crazy person, until finally they were all gone. I’ve never felt so digesting in my whole life.

      …and now my head feels itchy.

    • SA

      The horror. I barely survived when I had it as a child. Definitely going pro all the way if kid gets it…2nd mortgage or whatever we need to do.

      The friend’s response was a little odd though….”Oh, my kids have it all the time”….I don’t think I’d be doing sleepovers with them. :/

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        So true. Avoid that family….

    • lizinthelibrary

      Girl scout camp. Always my sister and I brought stuff home from girl scout camp. Scabies was the worst one. Never lice (thank heavens).

      • Zoe Lansing

        I once fell out of a really high treehouse and broke my arm, color bone, and both of my ribs. I’d rather do that a few more times than ever again experience scabies.

      • the_ether

        Frankly, I’m concerned that you only have two ribs…

      • Zoe Lansing

        LMAO! The fact that I wrote that is evident of why I probably shouldn’t post comments while heavily medicated. I meant to write ribs on both sides (I think?). Anyway, I broke 5 ribs toatal,3 on my right side and 2 on my left (if I remember correctly; this happened in 1996,so it’s been a while!).Hurt like hell but still preferable to scabies.

    • rrlo

      I grew up in a tropical, third-world country. Girls have thick, luscious hair. So lice is a CONSTANT part of childhood. I think I ALWAYS had lice until I moved out of the country when I was 11. I am not afraid of it at all. Bring it on!

    • Guest

      I got lice twice as a kid- my parents blamed my poor friend. I found out when I got back to school that the kid next to me (who was a dirty gross kid) had it before me. Of course my mother called everyone and they had every kid in my glass down to the nurse’s office to check their heads…so yeah, everyone knew it was me.

    • Williwaw

      I’ve never had lice, but I twice had an apartment whose carpet was infested with fleas, and that sucked. Also, we had a bedbug scare (which, thankfully turned out to be just fleas). The day my son comes home with lice will be a buzz cut day for him. And possibly for me, too. (I don’t mind fast-moving bugs like skeeter eaters or wasps, but the slow-moving ones that infest your body…yuck.)

    • Geogirl

      When I read the title I thought I must have written it in my sleep. Over five months of repeated bouts, I cut my daughter’s beloved long curly hair (she cried) and shaving my boys’ heads mid-winter to get rid of it. I just got another note from school that a child in their class has lice. At this point I’m read to offer buzz cuts to the entire school for free.

      • Kay_Sue

        Line ‘em up! I don’t blame you.

    • Jamie-tang

      I am from a very rural area, from a hifalutin’ family. I had always thought that lice was something spread from unclean living conditions/dirty hair attracted it etc… Until my four year old brought home lice from pre-k this past fall. And for some reason I ended up with it approximately 10000x worse than my daughter, I blame it on my previous snobbery towards lice. To make it worse my kid actually started calling me “the Lice Queen” as some kinda formal-4 year old-invented-title. She would call me the Lice Queen in public to my dismay.

      It took a couple of weeks of serious nit-picking, but we got rid of it. I just got a note this week that it’s going around again, so I’m sure we’ll get it again because the Lice God is probably a wrathful one and my pitance ain’t been paid, (and my daughter is a real huggy kid).

      The Lice Queen will reign again….sadly.

    • SNOWSCAS81

      I had lice about four times in sixth grade. You’re right about the stigma. True, it’s important that parents are notified but it can be very embarrassing for the child. One of the times I got lice was discovered a hair cutting place. SO embarrassing. Again I know that haircut places can’t have lice outbreaks but the way they usher you out of there makes it seem like you have leprosy. Also, like the author, I once had dandruff that was mistaken for lice at my local Great Clips. I think I have a kind of phobia of going to get my hair cut now, lol. I really dread it and only go about every three months. And never back to that Great Clips.

    • CelesteF

      We have a huge problem with my step daughter getting lice from her moms house. So bad that we had to discontinue use of the OTC treatments because we were using them too frequently. After some research and talking to a doctor, we figured out that you can give your child IVERMECTIN to contain reoccurring infestations. It’s considered off-label use so you have to specifically request it, most doctors aren’t aware that it can be used for lice. We liked it because it is very safe (no neurotoxins) and it PREVENTS infestations. All the OTC lice products only treat lice. Which is nice for our budget because no matter how well we cleaned her hair, she would just come back from moms house with even more. After while that started getting expensive (and eating into our visitation hours)

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