When I get home from work each day, one of my first — and favorite — things to do is to pull out my girls’ folders from school. I love seeing what their little minds were busy with that day. Nothing beats observing the progression of handwriting, letter recognition, reading and their colorful imaginations on paper.
This workday routine gives me a chance to praise their creativity, an opportunity to work on challenges, and an idea of how their day went. It always leaves me with overwhelming pride and starts my evening off right.
That is, until the day I got “the letter.”
No one warned me about this. Not once was this mentioned in all the talks of the obstacles that I would have to overcome as a parent of a child in school full-time. I was not prepared.
“From the Nurse:
A case of lice was identified in your child’s classroom today. Your child was checked and lice was not found in his/her hair but please check your child’s hair just in case something was overlooked …”
It was as if those words registered in my brain and crawled straight to my scalp. Immediately, my head started to itch. I am not sure that my brain has allowed it to stop since. Don’t worry, if yours is itching now it does not mean you have lice.
I mean, my child didn’t have lice — yet. No! My child cannot get lice! Do you hear me? If I haven’t made it clear yet, my girls share everything — sometimes willingly and sometimes not. And I always use the same hairbrush — I mean, If I can find even one of the five brushes in the house to get their hair done each day, it is a good day.
Not only do they bathe together and share a room, but most of the time they actually insist on sleeping together. Plus, there is a 99.9 percent chance that the youngest will end up in my bed before the alarm clock rings.
Do you know what that means? If my kindergartner gets lice, her sister gets lice, and, GULP, so does Mama. Oh no, not today! Mama does not have the time or the patience!
At first, I was full of inconspicuous questions. I didn’t want Maylie to be aware of the situation. I mean, I remember how cruel kids can be. But, I still wanted to know.
“Did the nurse check your head today?”
“Did anyone not come back to class afterward?”
“No, no one was obsent.” (absent)
The next day I tried again. She still had none of the details. At that point I decided that it didn’t matter who it was. I mean, kindergarten happens. It was my job to do my part in attempting to keep it out of our house. After all, if I didn’t she (well, we) would be the ones absent due to lice.
So, I sought out anti-lice advice from good ol’ Dr. Google. Did you know that lice hate dirty hair? Hmm, an excuse to not go through the madness of washing it as often — got it! I can do that. Friends and family chimed in with some extra tidbits — braids, buns, hair spray and mint scents. Check, check, check!
But since then, my baby’s beautiful long blonde hair has been twisted, braided and slicked back on her head. Refusing to take a chance with leaving her hair down or half up, I throw sticky hair spray and mint scented dry shampoo on top, bottom, and all over her hair daily.
And every night, I pull out her hairdo and chant a “freedom” melody as I shake her hair free and attempt to discreetly check her scalp. This wasn’t in the parenting handbooks. Or maybe it was and I stopped reading once I had baby No. 2, who never slept.
Do you know how difficult it is to check for lice on a 5 year old without her knowledge? “Mom, stop! What are you doing?” Not only that, but I turned into a crazy person.
The cute yearly Christmas picture from dance class where all the kiddos put on antlers …. oh no, I messaged the instructor immediately and requested that my kids not partake. Any time I see anything in hair, it’s investigated. Is that … ? Oh, whew. Just a sparkle.
It has been a few months now and I have settled down a bit. It has taken some time, but I can once again open their folders without a fear of what may jump out at me. Maybe I have just mentally prepared myself for what could.
Regardless, thankfully, we have remained lice free — and I, armed with hair products galore, will continue to do my best to keep it that way.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.