I was a green mom until the lice came. When I saw the first louse I thought, “My goodness, get me some chemicals.” There were parasitic beings suckling on my child’s scalp. After sitting down and crying for a minute (twenty perhaps), I pulled myself together, grabbed a cup of wine and did what every rational mother does.
I called my mom.
Nothing, she had no advice for me. “Ask your brother, one of his girls had it a few times,” was her only bit of help. I call my brother who chortles, “Ha ha, it’s your turn to throw everything out.” I could hardly reply, I thought I was talking but the words wouldn’t come out. He continued, “Call the Doctor and get a prescription.”
So. Not. Funny. I love clean. I adore a clean and spotless house. When my windows glisten I beam with pride. Now I have a child with bugs in their hair. I call the doctor for the prescription, who am I to reinvent the wheel?
A few hours later I’m on the phone with the Pediatrician and our conversation goes exactly like this:
blah blah Shampoo no conditioner blah blah put the medicine on blah blah comb for the lice blah blah get 100% of the nits out blah blah clothing laundry blah blah blah blah there is no shame in this you aren’t a bad mother but people will think you are blah blah Malathion.
It’s my truth, leave me alone.
In reality the Pediatrician gave me the basic head lice rundown which is found all over the net (here’s what the CDC has to say). Kill them, brush hair with a nit comb for anywhere from one to eight hours, collect nits in plastic bag, launder everything in hot water and repeat… endlessly. Like Caroline Savery, I am a fan of Western Medicine. I’ve been known to taunt my mother for her excessive use of tuning forks in healing her wounds, but when I heard Malathion I stopped listening. I knew that whatever prescription the doctor phoned in would go unfilled, and that I would be on the hunt for a natural remedy.
Google headlice and you’ll find a host of natural remedies. I suspect that most of them are really great and simply getting your hands on them in the middle of an outbreak is the biggest problem. I was literally paralyzed; I couldn’t leave the house because I was overwhelmed with fits of hysteria.
I’ll give you the short version, because the trauma is still fresh. I combed my child’s hair for 11 hours over the course of one evening and a day. I used combinations of olive oil and organic hair conditioner. Between the eleventh and twelfth hours I cried for about 20 minutes and then I called The Picky Mom and stood around feeling inadequate while someone else took over my parenting duties. If I had a limitless bank account I’d recommend calling someone like The Picky Mom in your community within the first hour.
In less than 72 hours and my washer and dryer have hardly had a moment to cool down. I’ve washed just about everything we own on high heat and then put it through the dryer. I’ve used bundles of paper towels and rubber gloves. My families’ carbon footprint this week exceeds what is reasonable, and I feel awful about that. There are little victories though, I didn’t rub carcinogens into my child’s head, I met a most remarkable woman and we eliminated every bug and nit within three days.
Now I need a nap, because parenting isn’t for sissies.