I am currently waging an all-out campaign against the indefatigable and terrible kingdom of the louse. I apparently have hugged one too many young moms, and the armies of lice that pervade elementary schools have launched an insidious assault against my family. So while I’d rather be baking cookies and finishing my shopping, I have spent most of my last week itching, cleaning, washing, shampooing, nit-picking (literally), and living on the verge of mania.

Today, after my 75th load of laundry this week, I pulled a bath mat out of the washer to discover that its backing had disintegrated into a million little rubber pellets, now covering the inside of the washing machine and the floor (because of course, I had to pull everything out).

I said, loudly, and with a kick toward the dozen throw pillows covering my kitchen floor awaiting de-lousement, “I am going to cuss any minute now!” My son looked up, startled, having never heard me cuss before. I think he might have been a teeny bit excited and hopeful. Instead of satisfying him, I vacuumed out the inside of my washing machine and made loud growling sounds.

Now we are applying $300 lice shampoo from the pharmacist to all of our scalps because all the other shampoos and home remedies have failed us. I have never washed my hair so much in my life. Or my pillows and bedspreads or blankets or everything we wear. And everything that touches our heads and shoulders.

This makes me remember other not-so-perfect Christmases, like the one when I lost 4 nights’ sleep because the kids all got the stomach flu and no one could manage to make it to the bathroom before losing it all over their beds, floors, trashcans, etc.

There was also the year we had an ice storm and lost power; we made a last-minute decision to pack up the car on Christmas Eve and drive to Pennsylvania in the dark, even though we had planned to stay home because one of the boys was sick.

There’s another–the Christmas we drove to Pennsylvania with our newly-rescued dog, who had a tender constitution. In spite of giving him Bonine for the car ride, he managed to throw up several times en route. I can’t even begin to describe the anti-Christmas spirit hanging in the putrid air trapped within our car. For five long hours.

Here are just some of the things I don’t like happening at Christmas, which ironically, we seem to be working our way through. The 5 holiday atrocities are:

  1. the flu–stomach or otherwise
  2. lice
  3. power outage
  4. appliance failure
  5. HVAC failure

Yet even as I type this, I can think of worse things, like identity theft, flooding, fire, or the unthinkable–a death in the family. These tragedies put lice in perspective.

So I think I’ll be a bit more grateful, as I sit here typing and scratching my head. Then I will go apply the atom bomb to the lice world on my scalp and hope it works. I’ve told them to say their good-byes to one another, to close up shop and kiss their little nits good-bye. They’re about to breathe their last.

If not, there’s going to be some real cussing over here.


image by Laura Tiitto

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