So if you missed my most recent Instagram post, then HAVE I GOT A SURPRISE FOR YOU! It's not a good one, mind you; and maybe, just maybe, if you've ever parented a kid who attends public school or who ventures out into public whatsoever or who has even just once come into physical contact with a kid equally as lovey and cuddly and boogery as your own, then this won't come as a surprise at all: but, uh, here I find myself waist-deep in that old parental rite of passage... (Honestly, though, is that what this is? Because it's got a distinct Super Mario Bros. water level feel to it, if you catch my drift. I'm not interested. This blows.)
Margot has lice.
About two weeks ago she came home from school with a little orange piece of paper tucked neatly into her backpack, alerting parents that this god-forsaken vermin had made its way onto the scalps of the little wildlings running through the hallways. And, okay – I took it seriously, of course, but I didn't bother freaking out. A worrier I normally am, but eh, I thought, I'll invest my emotional energy into this only if and when I lay eyes on these things myself. I gave her head a once-over, found nothing, and got on with sweeping the dining room floor for the 84th time that day.
And then I promptly forgot.
When I did remember at long last, I said to Daryl, "Shit. The lice thing. Have you checked her recently?"
"Yeah just last night. Don't worry; I didn't see anything." Okay. Momentary worry quelled.
The following day, though, which was two days ago, I was sitting in the sunshine with Margot, and lo and behold, I saw something curious glued carefully to one single strand of her hair. "Ffff....udge, Margot. Hold tight. Don't move for a sec," I said. She complied (ish). I leaned in, and within, oh, five minutes or so, I'd found a dozen or more nits. NO BUGS, I should say. (And I have to believe that this is the sole reason for which I kept custody of my child and didn't volunteer her as a 5-year-old wood nymph before setting our house aflame.)
Margot's hair is pink, if you recall: so the fact that the nits were a vivid magenta did two things: it perplexed me greatly, and calmed me exponentially more so. I mean, a) these...are.....nits, right? I asked myself each time I found a new one; and b) hey, pink bugs are way less threatening than brown ones, it turns out, even if they do happen to be using your child's scalp as as a homestead and her blood as their life source. (Miracles are real. Thank you, Overtone, for the courtesy-dye.)
What followed in the 24 hours that ensued was a frenzy of total mayhem; we booked her an appointment at The Lice Lounge, which, as it turns out, is HEAVEN ON A HELL-SCORCHED EARTH. I cannot stress this enough: from the moment we walked in to this sweet little boutique, we were cared for: I with my tiny, taped-down sample of a nit ("It's pink...but it's a nit, right?" "Yup."), and Margot with her head teeming with unhatched louse-babies, sidled up to a station and were pampered to the max. She was outfitted with a tablet, a drink and snacks while I was checked and given the all-clear (I just told you: miracles are real); and before they got to ridding her hair of the vermin, they handed me a glass of red wine and told me to relax.
I've never felt so calm in the face of what would otherwise've been a nightmare; Margot was treated, I was equipped with all the lice-facts and peace of mind I could've ever dreamed of, and we were sent home.
It's too early to say we got off scot-free, but I have to praise the Gods and give endless thanks for the fact that never once did I see a live crawler. After we got home, I turned our place upside down and inside out as efficiently as I could whilst solo-parenting the kid who can't be told enough times to stop secretly perusing YouTube in the basement.
If you think for even a moment that there were no "sit still"s or "I can't understand you while you're whining"s or "don't make me regret giving you that sucker"s or "don't make me count"s or "one.....two....."s or "get up, please"s or "rinse that shampoo out please"s or "rise, I said"s or "chin up....okay, no, come here; I'll do it myself"s or any one of a thousand other such commandments, you'd be wrong—but at the end of the day, I succeeded.
I didn't do all of the things, but I did all of the things I could do. Then, when at long last Margot was asleep, I cracked open a well-deserved IPA, caught up on mindless TV with the guy who conveniently showed up 10 minutes after everything was over (okay. He was at work. Whatever.), and lay down for a sleep that was wrought with weird and frenzied dreams. It's okay. The sun rose this morning, I'm clean, the house is vacuumed, and...shit. It's only Wednesday. I could've sworn that tomorrow was Friday. But, oh well; we can't always win, can we? And if we're mothers, well, can we even win once, for fuck's sake??
Actually, universe, on second thought, don't answer that. I'd rather hang on to the element of suspense.
"So they'll just crawl off my head and down my body and onto the ground!" Margot said while I tied her hair up in a tight bun before school this morning. Um, I thought, how are you mine, you weirdo?? Her logic made sense, but thank God she's wrooonnnnngggggg. The bugs are, for all intents and purposes, gone.
Margot's a bug girl. She's always been interested in them, keen to pick them up, let them crawl over her hands and study their movements; but housing them quietly on her scalp has been a new deal for us. I'm crossing all fingers, toes and eyes that we never have to wade through these waters again.
If we do, though? I'm making a beeline to The Lice Lounge. There's no doubt about that.
Mmmmbye, bugs. I don't like you.