On Thursday in the schoolyard, my girlfriend who is well-versed in how to spot head lice hissed: “I need to tell you something”. 8 year old E. was oblivious as my friend pointed out the teeny white nits peppering my daughter’s scalp and probably crawling on her pink faux fur H&M jacket. I was horrified and dumbstruck- I didn’t know where to begin. Thankfully, my friend, who is now my best friend, came over and began the nitpicking process. I washed the the family’s hair in medicated shampoo and washed load after load after load of laundry. Bagged up the stuffed animals and throw pillows to suffocate the lice. Threw away hairbrushes. Covered the sofa with sheets. Made some apologetic/warning phone calls to school friends and neighbors and others who were around my kids in the past week or so.
Three times a day all weekend long, I sat with E. in front of me on a sheet on the couch with a tray of fine toothed combs, metal clips, conditioner and a bowl full of vinegar. I sectioned and combed and combed and dipped and and talked to E. We found a show that we both liked: WE’s Downsized (about a Brady-bunch like family with lots of kids in Arizona that lived beyond their means before the recession and now are learning to live a downsized life). We both started to look forward to the nitpicking sessions. Me, because I was sort of obsessed with finding nits once I got really good at it, and because I had an excuse to sit down with E. E., because she got to spend some quality time with her mom.
Ever since E. hit second grade,I found it harder and harder to connect and find things to talk about that aren’t too babyish but aren’t too grown up. I am still her mom. She’s still my little girl. She’s not as content as she used to be to bake with me and prefers to read to herself vs. having me read aloud at bedtime. I don’t get out the craft supplies like I used to, especially now that her baby brother is a toddler and putting everything in his mouth. E. has her own mind and her own opinions.
Our lice outbreak gave me the gift of feeling closer to my daughter again. Instead of it being a nightmare (which it was in some ways), I think E. and I will look back at this time with fond memories.