Three weeks ago my home was invaded by a horror few can even imagine. Monsters that are relentless and nearly impossible to kill. And they were feeding on our flesh!
Now I don’t want to imply this is the worst parenting challenge I’ve ever faced … but it was pretty stinkin’ bad. We’ve been through stitches and trips to the emergency room. We’ve done pneumonia and crazy high fevers. We’ve done falls from the monkey bars, toddlers wandering out to the road, and lost-in-the-store. All of those parenting challenges were scarier than lice, but when it comes to the creep factor, to pure ickiness, lice wins hands down.
Yes, we all lie. It’s part of parenting. I’m an old pro. Here are some of my favorites: “No, there are no more Snickers bars.” ”Honey, Santa doesn’t allow kittens on the sleigh.” and then, perhaps my favorite, “Yes, that’s the end of Bambi. That fire in the thicket is the big climax. And, yes, it is the shortest Disney movie.”
I’ve told all those lies. I didn’t suffer any guilt, because, I knowingly told them. I knew I was lying.
So, here’s how the lying/lice thing went down at the McKay house:
For weeks, my daughter had been scratching. I kept looking for lice and not seeing them. She was worried about them, so I let her start using a lice defense shampoo. Since I was looking and not seeing anything, I wasn’t too worried. “It’s probably because of the change in the weather, honey.” (No, that’s not the lie. Wait for it.) See, this was early October. In Texas, that means we’d dropped from 105 to about 95. That’s our “cold” front. So I really thought she just had dry scalp.
But finally, one Sunday, I dragged her outside, in the sunlight, with a magnifying glass and I finally found the little buggers. Actually, on her, I only saw the nits (the eggs), but off we trotted to the store to buy the treatment. My poor daughter was visibly upset. So I said …. (drumroll, please, ’cause here it comes) “Honey, it’s no big deal. Everyone gets lice at least once when they’re little. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.”
Flash forward four hours. Her lice treatment came with this little comb. Out of curiosity, I combed my hair into the bathroom skin. And I. Had. Lice.
So picture it, okay? My daughter, in the living room at the computer, blissfully playing while she’s got her lice treatment under a shower cap, convinced that it’s “no big deal.” From the bathroom, I call out to my husband in a quavering voice, “Honey, can come here for a second?” He comes in. I’m in tears. Head buried in my hands. “I have lice!” I wail. “I’m so ashamed!”
Seriously. That’s what I said. Or rather, wailed.
I look up. My kids had followed The Geek in. My son runs over to the sink to look at the creepy crawlies. My daughter looks at me with an expression of utter betrayal. Obviously, I had lied. It was a big deal. It was a very big deal.
Okay, it’s still really not.
Lice don’t hurt you. They’re just creepy. And a pain in the butt to get rid off. I won’t bore you with the details of how to actually get rid of them. You can find that info on line if you ever need it. Suffice it to say it involved burning anything that might have come into contact with your hair in a giant bonfire in the backyard like that scene at the end of The Velveteen Rabbit. Just kidding. Sort of.
But we did have to buy all new hair care stuff. And lots of scented oils that lice don’t like.
I’m not 100% sure my daughter has forgiven me for my blatant lie. We still go back and forth about who got them first. I try to tell her it doesn’t matter. But that lice are common at schools. She’ll eye me suspiciously and ask how close I get to those other women in my yoga class. “You could have got lice from one of them,” she tells me over and over. Me, I’m convinced they didn’t move over to my head until she started using that Lice defense shampoo.
And from now, if she uses the shampoo, so will I.
I truly believe that I would do anything to protect my kids. I could be one of those crazy strong moms who could lift a car off her child. I would fight off demons. But I’m not getting lice again for her. That’s where I draw the line.
So what kind of lies do you tell your kids?
Emily McKay loves to cook, bake and play with her kids. When she’s not on deadline, she also gardens, composts, follows celebrity gossip, and practices yoga. When she is on deadline, she … well, she panics, and does all of those things with more nervous energy. She lives in central Texas with her husband, two kids, two cat, two dogs and four chickens.