There is nothing that will bring your day to a grinding halt like a case of head lice. It doesn’t matter if you are working out, cooking dinner, catching up on your e-mails or having an otherwise productive life, all activity will come to an unceremonious end the second you find some creepy-looking bug crawling around in someone’s hair.
When the College Man contracted a case of this crud during a recent school break, it’s no exaggeration to say that the house went on lockdown as if it were under attack. The beds were stripped and sheets washed in the hottest of temperatures. The mattresses and furniture were fumigated to prevent further infestation. Every surface was scoured with the most powerful concoction on the planet while the affected individual was quarantined to a barstool and told not to touch anything. (For the record, he sat there looking wide-eyed and panicked as if he might spontaneously combust at any moment.)
Over the next several hours, as I combed through the boy’s follicles to remove his little “friends” and their demon spawn, I couldn’t help wondering why we freak out as much as we do about this condition. (Keep in mind; the child has a LOT of hair so I had plenty of time to devote to this issue.) It’s not that lice isn’t a serious problem that must be dealt with immediately, but why does such a small bug illicit a reaction typically reserved for a declaration of war? We see insects doing all kinds of things all of the time, but we usually don’t flip out about it. In fact, if we spot a unique specimen in the yard, we might even call our families over to take a look at it. Lice, on the other hand, usually causes people run for the hills.
So why is it different? My guess is because bugs aren’t supposed to be there in the first place. It’s not unlike finding a mouse in the house. We understand mice exist and were created to perform several important jobs. They eat cheese. They give cats something to chase and they head up major entertainment corporations, but we don’t want to see them rooting around our kitchens. The same goes for lice. I’m perfectly fine with them being in the yard or garden, but settling a colony in my son’s hair? Not so much.
In the weeks that followed, I had a minor freak out every time my head itched and I could not pass a mirror without searching my scalp for signs of life. Although I had done everything to rid my home of these unwanted guests, the memory of their visit lingered, as did the sympathy scratches. While I am not one for using this column as a PSA, in this season of hats, scarves and other cranial coverings, consider this your heads up to be on the lookout for these creatures and to get a jump on them before they bite out a huge chunk of your day!
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