Wednesday, February 29, 2012

would you rather fight lice or zombies?

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.

They froze.

"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.

28 comments:

  1. I, too, have fought the Battle Against Head Lice. Horrible creatures. Your head will probably feel itchy for months. Mine is starting to itch right now!

    My very first blog post was about lice.
    http://commonhousehold.blogspot.com/2008/09/lousy-summer.html

    I choose zombies.

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  2. This made my head feel itchy, too! You're lucky you have boys in this situation. It would be harder to convince little girls to have their heads shaved. ;)

    Good luck. I hope there are no more creepy crawly scares in your future.

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  3. P.S. The buzz cuts and the massive laundry assignment were excellent ideas. Don't let your guard down. Check those heads daily. Fortunately it's much easier when you have boys than when you have girls.

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  4. "They assured me that lice like clean hair more than dirty hair, so they should be pretty safe." CLASSIC! I'm itching just reading this.

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  5. ohhhh now I'm itchy too! We had a single case of lice at the preschool where I work and I was freaking out. I can only imagine how distraught you must be! Keep checking their heads and washing everything that goes to school every day! Good luck!

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  6. had head lice 20 years ago, 6 girls and 1 boy. and all the girls had long hair. sigh. the school didn't tell us that one of the families had it, and it ended up all through the school. what a nightmare. glad they are more preemptive now and let you know there might be a problem. trying to find time to comb through all that hair and get the cows milked and chores done. it made for late nights.

    I haven't had to deal with zombies, so can't compare, but never want to do the lice fight again.

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  7. I feel itchy just reading this. Ugh.
    Thank goodness you've managed to escape it. I hope luck continues to be on your side. :)

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  8. Lice can be a huge battle because kids share it at school. Good luck!

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  9. We have had lice ONCE and I managed to avoid it... but man, the boys were infested. I have been traumatized ever since, and I make Max (who has long hair) wash his hair with Vosine anti-lice shampoo ever since. So far, so good. I think lice hate the smell of ti tree oil, which is in that shampoo.

    God, now I'm itchy...

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  10. I'd have to go for Zombies, after much thought. We figure zombies just need love.

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  11. I used to work in a hair salon and once in a blue moon, a kid would come in with lice. Everyone who worked there had a supply of the lice killing shampoo at home. I never got it, but I definitely used the shampoo, in a freak out, more than once! I feel your itching!

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  12. Actually, TT is right. Lice do like clean hair better! And if you can't wash it, a night in a freezer also takes care of it.

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  13. Oohh...no buzzkill quite like headlice!

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  14. oh...gack. Lice. Poor PS...we were wondering why they were called off for today already last night.

    I would have loved to see the impromptu barbershop on the driveway scene. :)

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  15. We've never had lice here (knock on wood).

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  16. Ewwww! No head lice here ever - thank gawd! {itching}

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  17. I saw the Boys' school was closed today - silly me, I thought it was the weather.

    If you're doing tons of wash, wait between loads. Seriously. Or take your duds to a laundromat where there's a lot of hot water. Just useless advice from a former day care teacher - you know, one who excelled in checking heads for the little critters. Shudder.

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  18. You did the right thing. With baseball season around the corner for you I hope your boys each have their own personal batting helmet. More advice from a veteran of the lice wars of 1997. I still have flashbacks.

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  19. You are so lucky to be able to shave their heads! Long hair is a nightmare when lice hits Caroline's school. Luckily tea tree oil really does seem to work - and putting outdoor clothing outside for the night in freezing temperatures is also quite useful!

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  20. Just reading the first part of your post made my head crawl...ugh!!!! Thank God for boys with easily shaved heads (for the record, I would have done the same thing in a heartbeat!).

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  21. I'll take zombies over lice any day. Do you have any idea how much hair we have in this house with three long-haired females?! Eesh.

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  22. Sounds like you're pretty safe. As a social worker I had been through so many head lice scares that it doesn't faze me. Apparently it can be pretty common, and believe me, pet fleas are much harder to get rid of than head lice. I'd rather come into contact with head lice! ;)

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  23. I escaped dealing with this with my son - he had really short hair during the breakout at school (inevitable) and just a good washing every day of every single thing was it -along with a LOT of good karma points turned in.

    I do remember a very horrible time in my elementary school years where there was a lice breakout and my mom and sisters had to use the stupid comb on my head for hours and hours, maybe weeks and months. (time is blurred as a small child)

    Good luck to you in your battle!!

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  24. I'll take the zombies. We did the lice battle a few years ago and because I am so good at it I was lucky enough to get it myself. Still shudder just thinking about it.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome Picture!!

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  25. Wait.
    There was wine LEFTOVER from book club?

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Spill it, reader.