Lions, and Tigers, and Lice! Oh, My!

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Picture this: a mother serenely brushing the hair of her two beautiful children after their baths. Storybooks are piled on the bed in happy anticipation of their peaceful bedtime ritual.

Little does this mother (ok, it was me) know, but something lies waiting beneath her son's tawny tendrils. Something shocking and vile. Something that will destroy any promise of serenity that the evening held.

When I first catch a glimpse of movement ("What the...?"), I merely think that my eyes are deceiving me. I blink. Shake my head. My hand goes to my own scalp almost reflexively because I'm suddenly itchy. And at that very same moment I realize that I'm staring at a bug on Henry's scalp.

And just when I think it can't get any worse, I see that the bug has friends. Everywhere. That's when my inner teenager comes out and I'm yelling, to my great embarrassment, something I haven't said in 20 years: "Gross me OUT the door!"

When things like this happen -- you know, disgusting things that appear out of thin air and have to be dealt with -- I wonder how I suddenly became the responsible adult in the room. Really? Me?

But there I am, with my sweet children, who are in need of a mother who can fix it all and make it go away.

Since lice is such a rampant problem these days at elementary schools, most school nurses are very experienced in dealing with it. I contact ours immediately and she is extremely helpful, explaining how to get rid of them and directing me to the website

After I learn what needs to be done, I stock up at our local pharmacy for essential lice-removal kit items: olive oil, plastic shower caps, tea tree oil, Dawn dishwashing liquid, lint removal brushes, and Licemeister metal lice combs. After we treat the kids' hair and scalp with olive oil, we nitpick for many hours over the next few days until we're sure the little buggers are gone.

I learn so much about lice and re-infestation prevention that I'm sure I'm entitled to some sort of certificate. Now Henry has a shorter haircut, Julia ties her hair back, and they've both been instructed not to share hats or baseball caps. At any notice that lice is going around, I put tea tree oil in their hair before they go to school.

Like most things, once you deal with having lice, it's just another notch in your mommy belt. And to my mommy friends (who of course didn't witness my initial freak-out), I say, "It wasn't that bad after all. It's empowering. My new mantra is: Bring. It. On. I've conquered lice."

Are you a "lice survivor"? What did you find worked best to get rid of it? Click the comments link below to share ideas.

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Lions, and Tigers, and Lice! Oh, My!

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