I left the house while it was still dark outside. In the wee hours of the morning, few people were on the road and even fewer were in the grocery store.
I quickly found what I needed and avoided all eye contact at checkout.
On the way home, I told myself over and over that I was simply ruling out possibilities, that surely, this wasn’t the case.
But as I held the tiny-teethed comb in front of my disbelieving eyes, there it was: multi-legged, squirming proof that I was no longer master of my own domain.
Since Monster’s surgery, we have not been around other kids. Period. I have basically had him holed up in the house, according to doctor’s orders.
Anyway, the cause doesn’t matter, I thought, as now I have a million of these things squirming around my head, sucking my blood (and brain power? Can I blame lice for my ditziness?).
With my husband and the baby spared, I knew I had to get to work quickly to avoid further contamination. I covered mine and Monster’s heads in orange gel and counted down the moments until the little box said the lice and their offspring would be terminated.
There, on the tiny blue comb, I again saw squirming legs.
WHY AREN’T YOU DEAD?
How did I end up with a superstrand of lice that medicinal-grade chemicals cannot eradicate? What kind of hyperbreed is this?
And the horror does not stop there.
Calling people to tell them you and your kid have lice must be the parenting equivalent of the sexually transmitted disease phone calls people have to make to former partners. It is incredibly embarrassing, as you don’t know where it came from and you don’t know who might have it.
I had a few phone calls to make, as we had spent the last week out of town, bed-hopping around friends’ and family’s houses, spreading our infestation wherever we went.
We are alone, ashamed and feeling incredibly dirty.
We are lice tramps.
Just this week, someone told me Monster had the most beautiful head of hair they had ever seen. Little did we know there were tiny eggs full of blood-thirsty parasites, just waiting to explode and cause mountains of itching and shame.
I looked around the house, wondering where else these scalp-mongers may be hiding.
“Maybe I should just burn the whole place down,” I speculated. Seemed easier than doing something labor-intensive, like laundry or vacuuming.
“Arson – lice,” the investigator would say. “Ma’am, the good news is that there are no more bugs in your home. The bad news – you are now homeless.”
Would that be so bad? We could live in our cars for a bit while we rebuild, provided we thoroughly vacuum and bug-bomb the vehicles. So long as we have a smart phone and a credit card, do we really need a house?
Sadly, after much thought, I deduced that with an infant, a house is necessary. And therefore, I would have to kick the infestation old-school – through scrubbing, combing, vacuuming and sticking our heads in the oven.
(Have not tried the last one, though I heard these things hate heat, so am seriously considering it.)