Warning: This Post Will Make You Itch

My daughter’s favorite baby dolls spent some quality time in our freezer last weekend.

This may seem strange, bordering on macabre, but all will become clear when I utter two words: head lice.

Oh yes, friends. My children kicked off their summer break with a rousing course of head lice. There’s nothing quite like fielding an early morning phone call from your co-parent that begins with the words – “I think there are bugs in our daughter’s hair.” That’ll ruin your day right quick.

There followed an intense flurry of activity and decision-making. Drop-in visit to the pediatrician for a head check. Confirmed bug sightings. Decision time: tackle the issue ourselves or turn to the professionals? We opted for the latter and scheduled an immediate appointment with a salon that specializes in dealing with lice.

These amazing, saintly folks spend their days picking nits out of children’s hair. Clearly there will be a special place in heaven for these hygiene heroes. Several hundred dollars later, we were declared lice-free (with a certificate to prove it!) and it was worth every single penny. I have heard many a horror story from friends who took the DIY route to bug removal, only to find themselves battling the critters for months.

We were on our own for home cleanup, but that part wasn’t so bad. Many loads of laundry with hot water and hot drying cycles. Replacement of several pillows, hairbrushes, and ponytail holders. Quarantine of beanbag chairs. Freezer treatment for those toys and stuffed animal friends that couldn’t withstand the hot dryer cycle. Poisonous spray applied to the car seat and bike helmets.

All of these activities were accompanied by occasional twitching and head scratching by yours truly. I didn’t have lice – the nice bug ladies checked and cleared me – but the power of suggestion when it comes to insects in your hair is absolutely overwhelming. I’m still feeling phantom creepy crawlies over a week later. Shudder.

Those of you who are regular readers of this column (hello!) may have already clued in to the intense irony of our situation. Last week, I wrote a column about how I don’t bathe my children. This week, my children have head lice.

Har, har. Let us all enjoy a good laugh together.

Even though I know perfectly well that lice and hair-washing are not actually connected – having been reassured of this fact several times by assorted pediatricians and lice professionals over the past week – it still evoked some intense moments of Mom Guilt. The lice ladies did gently suggest that having a single, communal hairbrush for all the females in our family was, perhaps, not the ideal situation.

(Side note: in case the universe really does run on caprice and irony, let it also be known that I have never won the lottery. Ever.)

The lice were gross. But they are not the most horrifying bug-related parenting moment I’ve had to deal with. That prize goes (for the moment!) to the removal of the gigantic wood tick from my daughter’s head last summer. Seriously, that thing was the size of my pinkie nail. I will tell you right now that seeing a LIVE bug protruding from your child’s head – feet wiggling and everything – is, unfortunately, not something that will ever be erased from my memory.

We staggered a little bit out of the starting gates of summer, but now I think we’re on the right path. We’ve got clean sheets, new pillows, enough hair brushes to start our own salon, and a 30-day guarantee that the lice will not return. I hear the ticks are abundant this year, but at this point, I’m ready for anything.

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