Yesterday Team Testosterone came barging through the door shouting "We don't have school tomorrow!" Gleefully they began stripping off their winter coats and backpacks and I helpfully corrected their assumption, "Maybe you won't have school tomorrow. We don't know for sure--the snow might miss us." (See: Winter Storm System Rolling Thru Midwest) They insisted, "No, Mom! Really we won't! Because of the lice!"
Before I staggered back too far clutching at my heart, one of the boys thrust a note into my hand that explained how the school would, in fact, be closed for intensive cleaning after several cases of head lice have been reported. It took about 3 seconds to scan the note and make executive decisions. (See: Reasons Why Green Girl Would Rock as President)
"STOP RIGHT THERE!" I commanded.
"Strip naked--leave everything in the laundry room and then go upstairs and change into play clothes." They complied, and raced barefoot and bare-assed up the stairs to the safety of their rooms.
I shoved the first load of everything--boxers, khakis, shirts, sweatshirts, winter coats, hats, snowpants--into the washing machine and dialed the setting to Hot/Cold. For safety's sake, backpacks and the entire stash of mittens/hats/scarves went onto the "WASH" pile and I grabbed my coat and keys.
Instructing the boys to stay at the kitchen table no matter what and do not move until I get home--and eat a snack and finish their homework, I ran out to the Momvan.
We got the first note last Friday and I'd diligently pawed through the boys' hair, searching for nits and signs of lice. I'd peered closely at their scalps every day since, but now I was taking no chances. I shuddered when I thought of all those winter jackets and snow pants crammed closely together on classroom hooks--and the blithe way lice could climb and crawl from one head to the next. Can lice crawl from winter boot to winter boot? Maybe I should run all of their shoes through the wash. Suddenly my scalp began to itch.
Forty-eight minutes I returned home, a razor kit in hand. One at a time, I perched the boys on a stool in the middle of the driveway and began shearing their heads. I knew we didn't have lice, but I figure keeping them "high and tight" couldn't hurt.
Three loads of wash and three buzz cuts later, I feel confident we've kept the lousy parasites at bay ... for now. Others I know have experienced this terror. I realize this is only the tip of the lousy iceberg. Even so, that leftover book club wine is looking pretty tempting--since Sunday I've fixed a leaking dishwasher, dealt with a water heater on the fritz and sniffed out carbon monoxide in our basement.
My sons have offered encouragement during this ordeal. They assured me that lice like clean hair more than dirty hair, so they should be pretty safe. (See: Boys, Hygiene, Personal Care Is for Wusses) We've seen no trace of lice thus far and I believe my Buzz Cut/Laundry Attack is enough of a preemptive strike to negate any critical risk. And this has been a "Teachable Moment" as the boys wonder what eats lice, how lice have babies and who would win in a lice vs. army ant showdown.
I'm keeping the faith even though the back of my head feels itchy while I type this.