Friday, September 19, 2014

a family field trip to the lice ladies of alpharetta

sarah would like me to point out that she isn't making an inappropriate
 gesture with her finger in the picture on the left. it only looks that way.
it's easy to be unaware.
we're busy.
we go through the day scratching our heads a little more than usual, but we don't stop and think about it. 
let's be honest, we don't want to think about it.

we just want to keep doing what we're doing
... and scratching our heads.

but, as in most things, there does come a time of seeing.
a time when the blinders are ripped from our eyes and the realization is etched in our brains and the fear is manifested in our ... well ... in our everything. in our entire being.

(or our daughter does).

and if she has it, probably we have it and probably the entire family has it and probably the dog has it and the cat has it and everyone that's come into our home has it ... and if that's the case, than it truly is time to panic.

anyone ever been there before?

the time when the woman of reason runs right out of the room and the maniacal-mom moves in?

like the other night when i got an email from a mother in sarah's friend group who said she'd found lice in her daughter's hair and we had better check our girls and i did and i found it in sarah's head and i about fell down on the floor in the fetal position of my fear and began, immediately, to crave dark chocolate pudding, red wine and (being totally honest) the open road ...

yeah. that.

i didn't give in to the cravings, but i did give in to the crazy-mother mode. you know ...
where i completely lost of sight of the big picture and the little louse and decided i was going to eradicate this insidious issue by the power of my own strength, determination and the sanitary settings of my laundry machines.

the kids began to cringe and cower as they watched their out of control mama prepare her family for lice-lockdown.

we never know what a wednesday night might bring.

starting with lining up everyone on the deck.  no one allowed or wanting, for that matter, to touch each other. except bella. she didn't know the drill. she hasn't had the pleasure of this particular experience in our family before. so she continued to try to curl up with her siblings.


the children tried to explain to her:

"we have lice, bella."
"what's lice?"
"a bug that lays eggs."
"in the hair."
"bugs in the hair."
"bugs? huh? what?"


i moved from hair-checking to brush-boiling to bed-clothes gathering. i rummaged and rifled through all my under the sink products to find lice combs and shower caps and whatever leftover potions i could round up. i promptly soaked sarah's head with listerine -- because i remember that working once. the measly shower cap wouldn't hold her soaked hair and so i wrapped her head in a target bag and sent tyler quickly to the store for several more large jugs of mouthwash and a half dozen heavy duty shower caps. (most 17 year old boys might resist this kind of shopping errand, but he grabbed his keys and pretty much bolted out the back door, thankful, i'm sure, to escape my madness).

i'm not sure i can begin to describe what happens to a home when a lice-alert occurs. especially in the home of a large family. maniac mother starts to see everything in her line of vision as suspect. all soft surfaces become potential pest places. 

large trash bags are handed out, "YOU, bag all throw pillows. YOU, bag all stuffed animals. YOU, bag bedding."


speaking of sisters, the oldest was never so happy to be away at college and safely across state lines.

i called a friend about a prescription. (for my daughter with lice, not for me. though i'm sure a little something for me might have been a valid idea at this point). she started to talk me off the ledge and said "jody, call the lice ladies. they worked for us. they're awesome ... worth the money ... and they even calmed me down."

i needed to be calmed down. desperately. and so i called. and at 9pm someone answered.

"get that listerine off your daughter's head," they told me, "and don't do anything more until tomorrow when you come in. bring the entire family. we'll check everyone." i looked around at the war zone that had quickly become my home. "nothing more? really? nothing?"
my daughter, with her listerine-soaked-target-bag-wrapped head walked into the room. 

"honey. sweetie. we have to wash that out of your hair now."

she stopped and stared at me. mouth and eyes open in disbelief. her look said it all.

look at the date on this picture!
we were at the lice lady six years later -- to the very date!
you see, we've been here before. in fact it was exactly --and i mean, exactly -- six years ago on september 18th, 2008, when we were treated for lice the first time. we had an outbreak in our school which continued to recirculate for ... well ... for-ever. it recurred so many times in our family that i even included it in my christmas letter.  i'm not kidding: "the year of the louse." 

i know ... who begins their christmas letter with the announcement of a lice epidemic? for that matter, who blogs about it? 

i'm writing this at 4am because i woke up and had all these words spilling out of my (lice-free) head. i'm writing it at 4 am knowing it might never get blog-published because it will need the absolute approval of a certain 14 year old girl. and 14 year old girls can be kind of funny about things like lice proclamations. in fact,  if you're reading this, than you know sarah said yes. i won't pressure her, but i think she might. because she's the kind of kid who can handle this -- waaaayy better than her cra-cra mother.

even yesterday at the lice ladies establishment, she posed -- willingly -- for the picture up above. though the situation was far from the funny, we couldn't help but be amused with the waiting room all decked out in sparkly, hot pink and zebra print accessories -- and a leather {obviously} couch.  i assure you, there were no throw pillows. my kids were especially fascinated with WHO exactly IS a lice lady and HOW exactly did they end up in that particular line of work. 

but just for the record, THE LICE LADIES ROCKED.

they did check us all. one piece of hair at a time. all the while calmly murmuring reasonable words of instruction and comforting us with their capable hands and trusty little lice combs. i know only God knows the exact number of hairs on our heads, but the lice ladies are probably next in that line of knowledge. 

i mean, my boys were pretty much mortified in the hot pink capes and mousse covered heads, but hey ... we can all benefit from a walk down the humble road, right? not only did they have to subject themselves to the hot-pink-and-zebra-print-lice-salon, but their little sister got to pick out the movie for everyone to watch: "princess-barbie-something-or-other." just for the record, someone really should make a "barbie gets lice" movie.

anyway, by the end of the afternoon, the professional de-lousers were able to deliver some good news. no one else in the family had it and sarah's case was mild and caught early. my children, by the way, would all like me to highlight that fact: NO. ONE. ELSE. IN. THE. FAMILY. HAD. IT.

driving home, we were all pretty relieved.
and, of course, i couldn't help but think about how the whole experience had something more to teach us ... scratch that ... ME.
you see, discovering lice is a lot like seeing your sin.
it's there.
we keep scratching at it.
sometimes even pretending it will go away on its own.

but it doesn't.
it can't.

it will, in fact, quickly become "an empire." (lice lady's words).
she went on to tell us a few worse-case scenarios.
and oh my gosh, that alone was worth the trip.

lice cannot be ignored.

i hate it. really. like when i get to heaven, it's at the top of my list ... why lice, God? why? i mean i know there's lots of stuff that is way, way, WAY worse ... this doesn't come close to comparing to some of the things others are dealing with, but it's a pain and it's disgusting. and even though it caused me to go all kookie-ba-lookie, i did (after the calming presence of the lovely lice ladies) realize it's truly not the end of the world.

but it does have to be addressed. completely.

and, like our sin, it has to be removed.  it can't just be handed a band-aid and a pep talk. that won't work. it might temporarily soothe, but it won't solve.

nope. there are certain things in life, like lice and sin ... which call for full deliverance. complete eradication. total redemption.

whether it's the lice ladies or Jesus, someone needs to pick through and wash it away for us. ever try "nit-picking" your own head? it's impossible.

i'm not glad we walked this particular road this week. it was a pain. and i'm sure it doesn't do a whole lot for our social status. in fact, feel free to avoid us. i won't be offended if you don't want to come over anytime soon for a cup of coffee or a cuddly little convo ... really. i get it.
i get it because we got it.
but there is something to be said for when you see something clearly and realize, you are in over your head. (yes, pun intended). there's a freedom found when our filth is finally uncovered.

because, truly, it is only at that point when we pause from our distractions, stop scratching our heads, see our sin and surrender ourselves, that we find the chance to be calmed, to be cleared and, ultimately, to be declared clean.


Sammy said...

Wow, that stinks! It is my worst nightmare. I pray it never happens! I don't have the energy. : - )

daniellem02 said...

I think everyone has had lice at one time! My mom is a 3rd grade teacher and she sees it every year. But I had no idea that people make a living just eradicating them! Who knew?!

Joy said...

Excellent analogy! Wow! I have never heard of lice ladies but what a nice option to have if needed!

monika winters said...

Thank you for writing about this. My heart was racing as I read it. We went through this about 4 years ago. I literally fell to the ground in shock when I looked into my daughters hair. I saw bugs EVERYWHERE. Clearly, she had them for a long time and we didn't know. One week later I found the critters in my oldest daughters hair. It took several weeks to debug and delouse them. What a nightmare--picking through their hair and washing bedding everyday for weeks. I would never have thought to compare this to my sin. I know that my youngest had hundreds of nits. No exaggeration. My sins easily outnumber that and I'm so grateful Jesus picked out and got rid of every single one.

Rebecca said...

We had family lice twice. Well, Emma had it twice. The boys had it once. And both times, I thought it would nearly kill me. Of course I was working full-time at the time, and I remember helping kids with their homework and then washing their hair and then, one by one, strand by strand, combing through three heads of hair. And Emma-- so blond. Nearly impossible to see the little devils. Ugh.

So sorry you had to go through that, and so glad it wasn't as bad as you feared.

jennifer mercede said...


Beth P said...

Scratching now, just reading this! If you promise to stay east of 400, I'll promise to stay west, k? I so want to meet you for coffee one day, and I'd love for you to come and speak to a group of moms, but probably not til the pillows have been in garbage bag quarantine for the requisite 2 weeks! ;) Beautifully written amidst the "ewwww".