A Lousy Story

When my oldest was in fifth grade, she told me that her head itched.  I took her into the bathroom and looked at the top of her head. I didn’t see anything but I said that she should take a shower and wash her hair. She had a lot of it. It was long and thick like her dad’s.

The next day she told me her head still itched. I looked at the top of her head again, this time with a comb. Nothing.

A few days later, she told me that her head itched.

“Down here, Mom,” she said, pointing to the nape of her neck.

I had her lean over the sink, and I took the comb and separated the hair on the nape of her neck.


Head lice. I’d never seen them before, but they were there, and from the size of them, they’d been there for a while.

“Everybody knows that you look at the neck,” my friend the nurse said.

I didn’t know it.

We bagged up all the stuffed animals. I washed the clothes in hot water. I bought a lice comb and lice shampoo. I had her sit outside it in the sun while I worked through her entire scalp, combing out the lice eggs. My arms ached by the time I was done.

The lice came back.  I washed all the bedding in hot water.  We used the comb.  Things were looking up.

She’d ridden a horse two weekends before. She’d worn the horse helmet provided by the stables. Hmmm.  I’d also bought a Viking hat at a garage sale. Hmmmm.

I took the two-year-old sister to the new library one day while the other two kids were at school. Sunshine from the skylight was hitting the floor where the two-year-old was standing. I glanced down at the top of her head and saw movement.

We hurried out of the library before I could scream.  I called the pediatrician. He prescribed a cream and told me to do both girls and then put shower caps over their heads and to leave the cream on for an hour to suffocate the lice. 

Have you ever tried to keep a shower cap on a two-year-old? We called it the shower cap game. I wore one, too, even though I had no cream on my head. My head was getting itchy — just the  thought of what I was dealing with. If I got head lice, who was going to comb them out of MY hair?

I never had head lice as a kid. I decided that my daughter’s overcrowded 5th grade classroom wasn’t helping matters.

I called the carpet guy to come steam the carpet. It took a month, but we finally got rid of the lice.

I didn’t cut either girls’ hair, so give me credit for that. My son never got them.

Head lice, the itchy itch that keeps on giving. May you never have to find them on the nape of the neck of someone you love.

3 thoughts on “A Lousy Story

  1. I sooo relate to your story. I work with children so I got them. I did the same thing as you – washed everything on the hottest cycle and combed the lice out. Still had them. Tried again and washed everything again. Still lice. A third time and I had to catch a plane to the UK…where I gave my boyfriend and his ENTIRE FAMILY head lice and it was my first time meeting them all. I still can’t live that down.


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