The vermin are circling closer and closer. Three of our closest friends just had it, and now Millie comes home with the telltale note from the nurse, advising parents to be on the alert as two of her classmates have the little critters.
I hate lice. I would rather chew on glass, have a kid with RSV, walk barefoot across the plains.... Last Christmas Eve, while sitting peacefully during our church service, I was patting sweet Georgia's head when I noticed things. Scurrying. I freaked. And I wanted to kill Dave, who I'd had check her head for lice that very morning since I knew it was going around and she'd been scratching like a dog with fleas (which, she was). I wanted to bolt that very moment so I could start doing whatever it was I needed to do to rid us of these vermin (tent the entire house ala ET? Burn the bedding? Microwave the stuffed animals? Gasoline her hair?) but I had to say the closing prayer. "Bless us Lord to have a lice Christmas--I mean NICE!" Anyhow, suffice it to say that the Louse Incident of 2006 dominated our holidays. We still wistfully refer to the "Christmas Miracle" that none of the other kids got it, not even Millie who shares brushes, hats, pillows with Georgia.
I am scarred. Haunted. I check for lice monthly. I dream of lice. When I see someone try on hats at the mall I cringe. I am my mother, who's paranoia of these parasites has left her crippled: since some sister missionaries stayed with us in the 80s and brought lice with them, my mom has not leaned her head back at a movie theatre, puts a towel on airplane headrests, and refused to wear a bike helmet from a rental place unless they sprayed it with Lysol in her presence. When I lived in China and was wicked homesick for normal food, she promised to send me a box of treats. When a slip arrived saying the downtown postoffice had a package for me, I cheerfully took the 30 minute bus, waited in 3 lines, paid 3 different Communit fees, and finally got my box-o-goodies. When I opened it there was a bottle of RID and a fine tooth comb. I was so sad I cried. But now, I understand. I forgive.
So lice has returned to Belmont. I check heads daily. Sometimes twice. I bought special hair care products that contain rosemary, tea tree, citronella, and I douse them as they leave the house. Jonah complains he smells like camping, but I don't care. My goal is on Christmas Eve to lay in bed and know that "not a creature is stirring, not even a LOUSE."