By Guest Blogger, Kim Grant
I was in a meeting with my boss and my boss’s boss when the name of the school my children attend popped up on my phone screen. I slipped out and answered it.
Caller: Mrs. Grant? We have your daughter in the school office. She has lice. You need to come pick her up.
Me: Are you sure? She has allergies and has been itchy lately but I really don’t think she has lice.
Caller: We are pretty sure she has lice. You need to come get her.
Did I mention that the meeting I stepped out of was in New York City? I was in New York, on the 33rd floor of a building in midtown trying desperately to wrap my head around the possibility that my child (in Charlotte) has lice. Suddenly, my own head was very itchy. I made two phone calls. The first to my mother, who lives in town and routinely saves our lives, to pick my daughter up from school. (Thanks Mom!) The second my dear friend, Kellie, who had a bout with lice awhile back and knew all there was to know about getting rid of the little buggers (on the very off chance that we might need this information).
Ten whole minutes passed before Mom called me back. “She has lice. I stopped by Liam’s class to check on him and he has them too.” I looked out across the Hudson River and scratched my head.
I am looking on this less as a public health issue and more as a little bad karma blow back. Two years ago when my daughter was in kindergarten I was horrified by a child in her class who had a recurring case of head lice and kept returning to school. I gently discouraged my child from playing with Sally who by this time had announced to the class “I have lice.” While very common and very contagious, lice don’t jump or fly, they generally crawl hair follicle to hair follicle so it’s not like every kid in the class is simultaneously infested. Thus the official CMS policy is not to inform other parents until there are at least two documented cases in the classroom. Remembering good old Sally, when my daughter scratched her head in reading class and a bug fell onto her desk she quietly packed up her things and self-identified her condition and began a cycle of self-inflicted shame, no doubt due to how I reacted two years ago with Sally.
My daughter HAD been scratching her head for a couple of weeks and I had checked her, but obviously not sufficiently. Having overcome my own mortification at being such a terrible mother and while still attempting to convince my daughter that this does happen to a lot of people and it is nothing to be embarrassed about (a “do as I say, not as I do” sort of moment), I began delousing my family. There are a couple of ways to get rid of lice- none of them fast or cheap. First step is to get the Nit Free Terminator which is the mac-daddy of all Nit Combs. You can buy them online, or locally at most places that specialize in hair products. Fairy Tales makes a mousse that kills lice as well as a number of all-natural repellant products for daily hair care (shampoo, conditioner, detangling spray).
Apparently lice do not like the smell of peppermint or rosemary so these products are so scented. Suave makes a Rosemary/Mint shampoo/ conditioner which acts as a repellant and is less expensive than the other brands marketed specifically for removing lice. You can also try the Nuvo ® method for lice removal which involves smothering the lice and their eggs (nits) in Cetaphil ® then drying the head with the lotion still on (good luck!) and sleeping on it overnight. This lengthy process must be repeated weekly for three weeks in order to kill newborn lice as they emerge from the nits.
After several rounds of amateur nit-combing and one round of Nuvo ® treatment on each child and lice (still), my afterschool sitter pronounced she did not feel comfortable coming back until the lice were “officially” gone. Ok- I get it- she is a college student with roommates and it would really stink to be the sophomore who brought lice onto campus. At this point I called in a professional delousing service to get the job done for real. Yes, there are people you can pay to nit-pick and rid you of lice for good! Our “Nit Nabber” checked the heads of all our caregivers as well as both kids. Turns out I didn’t need to give my son that buzz cut- he was lice free. Sitter, hubby and my mom were clean too. My daughter still had a head full of lice and SURPRISE- so did yours truly! Three hours and three hundred dollars later I’m pretty sure any itchiness is all in my head, not ON my head. This woman was such a sweetheart- so patient and encouraging with us all. She even reassured me that I had gotten lice because I was such a good mom, being close with my kids, spending time with them head to head and sharing parasites. I was nearly convinced that that tickly feeling on my head was a badge of honor.
Afterwards I was in no mood to cook so we went out for dinner. Enjoying the fall night on the patio at Hawthorne’s Pizza I noticed a distinct odor, like pencil shavings. I wondered if maybe someone was sharpening an entire box of pencils nearby, then I realized it was just my family’s new signature scent of rosemary and mint. I think I can get use to it!
Smarty Guest Blogger Kim Grant is a wife, mother, full-time marketing and communications planner at Bank of America, and recovering volunteer addict. Her husband, John, and their kids, Allison (almost 8) and Liam (6) have lived in Charlotte for 16 years. She’s a loyal CSP reader, and is thrilled to be a guest blogger. She’s a big believer in the power of this Mom community and hopes that by sharing her “lil’ critter” experience, other moms will get lots of helpful tips and tricks – or will, at the very least, get a good laugh!
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Kim, this was an awesome blog! You’ve got the knack! I want more!
We also had a bout with lice this year after my daughter brought it home from a sleepover. We went to Pediatric Hair Solutions, and although it was costly, one round of treatment killed all the nits in my daughter’s hair and mine. Thankfully no one else in the house got it! I think it’s really important to spread effective information on how to get rid of lice since so much advice that I read on the internet and even the hand out sent home from our school waas false. Thanks for the post!