The nurse at my daughter's elementary school did her due diligence and sent the little darling home with a "Health Update" letter. As any responsible nurse would do, she explained how dangerous the flu was. The letter went to great lengths to educate parents on the severity, symptoms and it contagiousness. A full three paragraphs were dedicated to everything from what the damned virus looked like to the importance of the vaccine to imploring parents to advocate hand washing (she even gave a link to a site for hand sanitizer coupons!) Take your average 8 x 11 1/2 inch piece of paper and the flu saga took up about 3/4 of the page.
She warned of the unusually aggressive Norovirus as well. A few sentences later I realized that some Lysol, anti-bacterial soap and Clorox wipes should be added to my grocery list. I calculated the number of Rubbermaid bowls I had; there was at least two for everyone in the family to catch projectile vomiting.
I almost filed the notice of doom and gloom when I noticed this:
*There are reported cases of lice in the school.
Allow me to blow that up for you...
*There are reported cases of lice in the school.
These little tidbit was plopped as the bottom of the page where only a Microsoft genius could manipulate the indentations so close to the edge. If it weren't for the asterisk it would have gone completely un-noticed. It was as if the letter was about signing your kid up for chorus, the new anti-bullying policy and peanut butter allergies. *Oh, and by the way, a bus-sized meteor was aimed directly at the school in 24 hours. Have a nice day!
I'm sorry but to mothers lice is equivalent to a plague worse that the Spanish Flu. My head started to itch the moment I put the paper down. Thankfully my kids never had it...but I heard stories. Horrid tales of poisonous shampoos, stripping sheets and furniture upholstery, burning pillows, shaving heads Oh my God! I imagined my house with a big Q spray painted on my front door: QUARANTINE!!! My kids would be forced to wear an "I Had Lice" button on their clothes. I'm sorry but some reported cases of lice smacks of denial. One louse (and when was there ever a case a solo louse attack) deserves a pamphlet: laminated, in neon red with a bibliography!
Good Lord I'm scratching my head as I write this! I scrambled for a flashlight, tooth picks and combs. Like it or not the kids were to be inspected. Before I could assemble my brood the little one, the informant as is were, announced that her friend, our neighbor had the plague. I nearly passed out. Why wouldn't the mother inform me? Or everyone else on the block? I ordered them all in the bathroom and raced to the neighbors house. Sure enough, her twin girls had it. Lucky for me, one of them was in my daughter's class. She offered to show me some samples of the little critters farmed from her kid's head but I jerked backwards like I was hit by a rubber bullet. I offered my sympathies but before I left she added that her kid got it from another kid who had been to my kid's birthday party. I would like to have thought she mentioned this out of sincere concern for my child. I know, however, that is was retribution for not inviting the twins to my kid's party.
Damn! I inspected all of their heads. I asked if they were itchy, shared anyones hat or witnessed tiny white bugs leaping from head to head in school. No. Despite every indication that they didn't contract this disease I continued the prodding. I searched every website high and low for pictures of these little bastards but they were all enlarged. I dry heaved at the site of to me what looked like a a white version of the creature in Alien.
So while I placed a hex on my neighbor and the parasite carrying kid from the party I zoomed off to the nearest drug store. Some $61.90 later and armed with gallons of RID I arrived home and decided to de-contaminate the kids. Lice or no lice. I saw little white things but I was not a nurse and I couldn't figure out if they could be dandruff, dry skin, or powdered milk for that matter. Three heads were hanging down in the tub. Complaints, cries of fear and screaming could be heard for miles. I assured them I would be treating my own head to but this was no consolation. I threw on some rubber gloves and went to work. It was a scene straight out of Silkwood; Meryl Streep hosed down, naked and screaming in the detox shower.
Their heads, fresh from a brutal scouring, hot water and a comb through were wrapped in towels like ladies in a sauna. To make them feel better which was useless I let them watch as I did my own head. Holding back the tears and restraining the urge to swear like a drunken sailor, I repeated the process on my hair. The poor kids. It was like dunking your head in lye, then mayonnaise, rinsed with searing hot water and having your hair stripped though with a metal garden rake.
The next leg of this viral journey was focused on sanitizing anything with a shred of cloth on it. I channelled Hazel and Alice for housecleaning karma and went about with the inspection of the cloth as it were. I knew in my soul that my kids were fine but my OCD was in turbo speed so I found a magnifying glass and spent the next four hours scouring couches, pillows and sheets. What were probably crumbs in my mind were lice. I sat staring at the particles waiting to see if they'd move on their own or hop. No evidence as such. My OCD fueled brain decided to clean everything anyway. My poor washing machine tried to keep up with endless loads of sheets and every clothing item in every dresser. My house was transformed to a Shawshank prison laundry. If my husband didn't barricade me from the kitchen until I calmed down all the food would be hauled off in a 1-800 GOT JUNK trailer.
*There are reported cases of lice in the school my ass! I adore the school nurse and respect how hard she works. I'd go out of my mind dealing all day with runny noses, puking and pooped in pants but for God's sakes woman we're dealing with LICE! I'm not dismissing the danger of the flu and stomach viruses but this is a pestilence of unprecedented nature! I imagine she was under pressure from the Superintendent and down to minimize this plague so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Shit happen and do infestations. There should be no stigma about having bugs in one's hair. I'm sure lice are as old as the dinosaurs but are still living because humanity is one big, free all-you-can-eat buffet. I just feel that if these little bastards show up in school they deserve they're own poster board warning.
Might I suggest:
Lice is taking over the school and will invade the entire city if it's not stopped! This is a pestilence of Biblical proportions! It must be stopped! If not we'll all end up on the show Infested on Animal Planet! For the Love of God check your kids' heads, scour your furniture, check you dogs and cats! Be cognizant of any scratching of heads! Stock up on RID or any generic equivalent! Wash everything you own including car floor mats in hot water in the "Death Heavy Metal" cycle in your washer! Dry them in the Heat of Satan setting! If your kids are too young to comprehend or willing, shave their heads! Barbers are extending their hours everywhere! Don't worry, we'll have volunteer staff to tutor you kids if they miss school! In other words, KEEP THEM AND THEIR VISITORS HOME!!! If this isn't enough to scare the bed bugs out of you imagine this crawling into you scalp and nose hair:
This is monster, not an afterthought!!!
Thank you and have a great day!