Teenagers and lice: strange bedfellows

DISCLAIMER: I apologize in advance – for all the itching.

I remember when Sundays were about jazz, yoga and mimosas. Long walks and picnics in the park. A day to relax and reconnect with loved ones.

Then my kids started high school.

Now Sundays are a variety of things, none of them peaceful. Projects suddenly due the next day so we have to haul ass to Walmart for poster board, colored pencils, and something called “multi-purpose spray adhesive” that violates at least 10 environmental laws.

Or we get every teenage boy in the city showing up to watch football. They remember stats about 900 fallbacks and receivers, but can’t remember to put coasters under Big Gulps or properly aim in the bathroom.

One recent Sunday was especially fun. The night before, Jacob found “something weird” in his bed.

He woke me at 1am to take a look and, in my sleepy state, I hoped it wasn’t a naked body.

He explained that he had placed the weird thing in a cardboard box top and pointed at it.

I squinted and said, “A sesame seed? You interrupted a dream about Brad Pitt for a sesame seed?”

“I think it’s a bug,” Jacob said.

I squinted again. Still looked like something that belonged on a bagel.

“I’ll check in the morning.”

In the morning, I put on glasses and used the magnifying app on my phone. Gotta love middle age. That seed was, in fact, a bug moving slowly around the box. I took a picture, searched online for dust mites and bed bugs to match it, but no luck.

I typed “lice” and hit enter.

We had a winner.

My husband Marc bought a comb and I ran it through Jacob’s head. Right away, two creatures popped out and proudly said hello. Weren’t even smart enough to run. I think the bigger one stuck his tongue out.

I consider myself a peaceful woman, but I wanted that little shit and all his friends DEAD. Marc, Jacob, Zachary, and I drove twenty miles north to get de-loused. At first, Marc wanted to stay home and watch football, but I reminded him that kids were his idea.

The Lice Lady checked all our scalps – Marc and Zachary were clean.

She said, “Dads don’t get it.”

Marc smirked and looked for a television with Red Zone.

Great. They don’t get mood swings, stress-induced anxiety attacks, or blamed in therapy for not smiling enough in family pictures. Ain’t life grand for dads.

Zachary didn’t get it because he uses more hair product than Bruno Mars.

Jacob and I got the head lice.

“How can this be?” I asked. “I thought lice only happened in elementary school. Kids were supposed to outgrow this risk the way they outgrew nose picking, Santa Claus, and crying through horror films.”

“Wrong,” said Lice Lady. “Thanks to selfies, lice is making a comeback with teenagers.”

Thanks Kim Kardashian.

Lice Lady used canola oil, a stainless steel comb and Palmolive. She poured oil in our hair, massaged us like she expected a marriage proposal, and dragged those suckers out with the comb, squashing them immediately.

Lice Lady then put Palmolive on our scalps. Palmolive can remove three week-old cheese from a stainless steel colander and suffocate bugs that could survive a nuclear explosion, so imagine what it did to a full head of natural curls.

After she rinsed and blew my hair dry, I looked in the mirror and said, “When did LaToya Jackson get here?”

Lice Lady said only close and loving families get lice. So I introduced my kids to the idea of personal space and boundaries. From now on, hugs means bugs.

We drove home and washed sheets, vacuumed furniture, and ordered pizza because, after Lice Lady, no one was emotionally prepared for my 900th attempt at Chana Masala and Jasmine Rice.

A few hours later, Jacob found a dead louse and a live louse in his clean sheets.

I stood there with my arms crossed. These bugs reminded me of high school friends, refusing to believe even after the cops show up that the party’s over and it’s time to get the hell out of my house.

We washed everything again.

Then Marc found another live one in Jacob’s hair.

I asked for a bottle of wine and a blow torch.

Instead, we were instructed to put canola oil in our hair and wear a shower cap to bed. It sounds horrific, but we live in Florida. All I needed was a housedress and slippers to finally fit in at the local church.

After researching solutions, I discovered plenty of evidence to suggest this would rid us of lice and prevent them from returning. I also learned the origins of nit picking and splitting hairs.

More fun than Latin!

We never experienced this rite of passage back in elementary school, but the universe always aligns to throw “common experiences” at me…like traffic jams, pinched nerves, and wrinkles. I guess it builds character.

Now I can say we’ve experienced head lice, and survived.

I’ll never look at bagels the same way again.