I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. Most of my friends have gone through it already. Some of them have had to deal with it over and over. I'm just lucky I have boys, and I can shear 'em like sheep.
It's head lice.
Our school had epidemic head lice two years ago, with a letter coming home every couple of weeks. I checked my boys religiously, but never saw so much as a nit. But yesterday, ruffling up Mao's brand-new very cool barbershop haircut, I spotted tiny crystalline blobs stuck to a few of the strands. Those are hatched eggs. Ugh.
It's such a pain. You have to sift through each strand of hair, boil the blankets, freeze the toys, suffocate the pillows, kill the cat. (This is a lie - much as I'd love to blame that fuzzy styrofoam-eating barfbag, lice are human-only parasites.) And while taking care of such tedious business, you end up explaining to the kids what's going on.
So, what is going on? Do they have lice because they're filthy filthy little boys? No, of course not. They have lice because their friends are filthy filthy little children. Oh, ok, that's not true either. Let's get a book:
Nit-pickin' by Nancy Van Laan and George Booth
But wait... don't get this book. No. Not only does the poor kid with the lice get subjected to home remedies that don't work (mayonnaise) and/or are actually dangerous (kerosene), but the book's mock-Ozark folk-song-y semi-rhyming text has an awkward meter (I have to be mistaken, but I think it's in trochaic octameter, like Poe's The Raven), with plenty of extra syllables thrown in just in case you thought you had finally gotten a bead on that rhythm. Also, the illustrations are amateurish: the whole thing looks like it was drawn in Paint and printed on an inkjet.
Bugs in my hair?! by Catherine Stier, illustrated by Tammie Lyon
Better. "These things happen," is the refrain as Perfect Ellie LeFleur is dismayed to learn that despite immaculate hygeine, her wavy red-blonde hair has become a home for fleas, a hive for bees, a nest for birds, there ain't no words for the beauty the splendor the wonder of my hair! Hee. I loved that soundtrack when I was a kid, and after spending so much time with hair yesterday and today, it's pretty much all I can hear in my head.
Anyway, Ellie and her parents do all the things you have to do - wash the bedding, vacuum, suffocate the toys, shampoo and comb - and by the time she's ready for bed, Ellie has calmed down considerably. In fact, Ellie even creates her own illustrated DON'T PANIC informational handout to give to other kids who have lice.
Ellie will definitely help an embarrassed, freaked-out kid who discovers that his head has become a thriving insect ecosystem. But what about my guys, who are not bothered by the bug thing (they didn't even object when I got out the clippers and buzzed all their hair off!) and are instead just really annoyed about having to hold still for so long while they get picked?
Head Lice Up Close by Robin Birch
You want the grody details? How's about some scanning electron microscopy of the life stages of the little bloodsuckers? You itchy yet?
This may be the final kiss of death for the Pink Me couch, by the way. I know I have to spend the day washing their bedclothes and the afghans and the covers of all the throw pillows, but that couch may just go out on the curb. Which is a shame, because as broke-down as it is, I still haven't found a replacement I like.
Did I say Ugh? Ugh.