The One Word Parents Never Want To Hear

I opened an email from a good friend last week.  And there it was.  The moment I saw the word, I started breathing heavily and my vision blurred.  I tried to get up and stagger away from the computer, but I felt like I was going to be sick.  And then I started scratching my head like crazy.

Lice.

The Email No One Wants To Get

As in, someone has lice in the second grade.  The same grade my daughter is in.  At the same school.  It’s the one word that just makes me want to run away.  Or as my friend put it – run straight to her liquor cabinet.  I’ve faced down every childhood illness.  Pink eye.  Fevers.  The vomits.  Multiple bee stings.  A smashed toenail.  A spider bite that swelled one eye shut and caused an overnight hospital stay with IV antibiotics.  Intestinal distress. I can handle them.  Or really, I’ve had to handle them because, I have no choice.  That whole mother thing kind of means you’re in charge.

But lice.  Lice could break me.  To confirm my fears, our school sent home an email.  And it’s a subject heading you never want to see: Head Lice Communication.  Yes, lice was spreading like wildfire, jumping from tiny head to tiny head, laying eggs and…. I think I just made myself sick again.  Parents were instructed to bring in trash bags to keep students’ belongings separate.  A friend told me to put my daughter’s hair in braids or a bun to keep it out of the way.  I think we should have locked down the joint like the outer space level 5 hazmat scene from E.T.

And it’s not just my school.  Now that I’ve had my first brush with the l-word, it seems to be everywhere.

At a recent party, one mother confessed to me that her kids got lice this fall.  And then again a few weeks ago.  And it wasn’t just the kids.  She got it too (!).  As I frantically started itching my head, she recounted her trip to the drug store once she made the horrifying discovery.  She slapped down three lice killing shampoos on the counter. And a fifth of vodka.  Then, she told me, she called the Lice Lady.

There is actually a wonderful woman who will come and check your child’s head, bring you lice killing super power shampoo and help you de-louse your house.  Genius!  I’m not sure how much she charges but I think I’d give her my first-born (especially if she’s the one who has lice) to clean it up.  I went to her website which says “Welcome to the Lice Lady!  Sorry you have to be here!”  I love this woman already.  She’s like a first responder, a Lice Marine, running into dangerous situations when others are running away.  She must have a strong stomach and patience for weeping parents who wonder “WHY ME?!”

I took an unscientific poll of mothers (5 friends) which revealed they believe lice is indeed the worst.  One mom disagreed and she’d take lice over the vomits.  I started scratching my head again.  We have so far escaped the Lice bug (knock on nits).  But since we’ve had the stomach flu this past week, perhaps there’s a Vomit Lady out there.