It’s tough to be present when lice are in the house
Warning: this post may produce irrational itching of the head.
Soon after I wrote a blog post on my new year goal to be more present, we realized that lice were in the house. We had received that dreaded note from the school a while back and had been keeping an eye out for the little creatures. After the obligatory notification to the brothers and grandparents who had been with us during Christmas week, we set out to kill the bugs.
A bit of backstory. About 18 years ago, I got head lice and took a swan dive off of the deep end. Dwelling in a more psychologically tenuous place, I became obsessive, compulsive and convinced we were going to have those blood sucking housemates forever. When I recently told my husband that I was pretty sure we had lice in our midst, he looked like a deer caught in headlights and quickly admitted to me, “I’m having flashbacks” – flashbacks to my mental instability, that is.
Dealing with lice puts an internal magnifying glass on certain common everyday behaviors. People scratch their heads with astounding frequency – at the grocery store, at the dinner table, just walking along minding their own business. Current lice science reports that lice are almost exclusively transmitted by head to head contact. Just watch elementary age kids interact and play – they constantly touch heads. This scientific knowledge doesn’t stop the tempting irrational thoughts of, “if I just wash and scrub and clean every square inch of our house, maybe those little suckers will beat it”.
There is a bizarre brand of shame that goes along with being in the lice club. No one wants to make that call to parents of our kids’ friends, teachers, or others who might have come in contact with the little buggers on our heads, thus they spread and spread. It invokes a level of courage to take a risk, a step of vulnerability and spit out the news. Responses vary – from physical distancing to true empathy with a healthy dose of “I hope that never happens to us!” If we meet up with someone who has had the louse in the house experience, a time of bonding ensues. Everyone in this exclusive club wants to be able to speak of their story, after the fact. It’s almost like confession.
Lice are not life threatening – they don’t even make you ill. There are lots of chemical and natural ways to try and combat them – just google it. Nonetheless they are a miniscule nuisance that can become a huge life distraction. Going through this for the second time has afforded me a gift to pause and reflect upon. What other small things in life do I allow to become overwhelming things that distract and steal my peace and joy? A thoughtless word, negative thoughts, erratic drivers, a messy house – the list could go on and on and on.
In reality, working on my resolution to be more present in the midst of living with lice for a few weeks was fertile practice ground. There will always be irritating and nagging things vying for my time, energy and attention. Focusing on the deeper more important things always involves a choice and a commitment.
I am happy to report that the Wilson heads are now louse free. We had it professionally confirmed – who knew there was such a profession out there?? And if you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to call me. I’d love to tell you our story.