being a mom

Lice Do Not Last Forever. Your Kid Is Going To Be Ok.

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She got started on my daughter, pausing only to murmur, “Wow!” and “Oh my” and “This is the worst I’ve ever seen.” After the fifth time that she told me it was “the worst, just the worst,” I side eyed her to get her to stop talking. I knew what the implication was, because I had been asking myself the same question since the phone call: how could I not have noticed “the worst case of lice” anyone had ever laid eyes upon?

Well, because I’m an oblivious moron, obviously. I gave my daughter full autonomy over her hygiene when she became self-conscious about me and her dad watching her dress and exhibited some discomfort with having other people touch her hair. I’m the same way, so I happily handed the reins over. She’s good at it. Except for her hair. She has my hair, thick wavy stuff that grows like kudzu and twists into mats by the end of the day. I’ve always had to hound her to brush her hair, and when, right before school started, she began brushing it, unasked, extra vigorously, a few times a day, I just assumed it was because I was so great at parenting that I had finally won this war. It wasn’t until we got to the flickering smelly room of a lice-removal specialist center in the back of a forgotten strip mall that I realized she was actually just scratching her damn head because it itched.

One hour became two, and then three. My daughter had time to watch both Finding Nemo and the entire collected Tom & Jerry Masterworks before the woman finished and handed me a bill for almost $400.00. Getting my own lice eradicated was clearly out of the question, so we headed home.

My husband had been busy. Mountains of trashbags containing bedsheets and stuffed animals were piled neatly in the living room, and the smell of faintly singed comforter and freshly dishwashed hairbrushes greeted us when we walked home. Our dryer appeared to be smoking.

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