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Lice Here. Questions?

April 10th, 2007

Here’s a Q&A with Wacky Mommy, by Wacky Mommy:

Q: Only dirty sluts get lice. You are such a dirty slut.
A: Please phrase your question in the form of a question.

Q: Are you a dirty slut?
A: No. But the three parents from the other second-grade class, the ones who refused to play room parent and call the other parents, so I could make 25 calls instead of 100? They are dirty sluts. Also assholes for not helping.

Q: When did you discover the lice?
A: Right after Wacky Boy’s birthday party Saturday, of course! Wacky Girl informs me, “My head itched, I scratched it and a bug fell off.” Oh, she was lousy, that girl. Big adult lice (that look like fleas, reddish-brownish with blood), medium size adult ones (kind of black? They looked like gnats, or ants) and teeny-tiny ones (gray, that look like, er, crabs. Not that I know what crabs look like). (And fyi, so far my husband, Wacky Boy and I are bug-free. Light a candle for us, would you?)

Q: Who did you call first?
A: C, who screamed, “YOU HAVE COOTIES!” at me, then laughed her head off. Me, the most Martha Stewart-ish of all our friends, has Lice In Her Home. Imagine. Then I called all the parents from the party. (Two of the parents I’ve called have said, no kidding, “Thanks for the heads up.” I would laugh, if I wasn’t so busy doing laundry.) Then I called my sister, who I think must have called my mom, because my mom called me next.

Q: And she said?
A: “During the Civil War the soldiers used smoke to smoke lice out and kill them.” (That’s what she said…)

Q: Well, that was helpful.
A: No, not really. My other friend C came over with dinner, and offered to take my laundry home. That was helpful. I love her. I’m thinking of leaving my husband for her. Right after I bitch-slap the mother from class whose kid had this a) 2 weeks b) 3 weeks c) one month ago, depending on if you’re talking with a) the mother from class b) the teacher c) the school secretary. Did they send a letter home? Did they call? Did they check the other kids’ heads?

Q: Did they?
A: No, they did not. Because lice aren’t catchy.

Q: Lice are too catchy! What are you, an idiot?
A: Don’t try telling the Portland Public School District what to do, they’ll tell you to shut the fuck up because YOU are the idiot, idiot. Also, they told me they will not check heads. Then after I flipped out, and my husband flipped out, and one of the other moms flipped out, they said, “OK, we’ll check heads. But only the kids at Wacky Girl’s table. And the kid who was lousy 2, 3, or 4 weeks ago. We’ll check her, too.”

Their policy is: If three kids or more in one class has lice in a ten-day period, then they’ll maybe send a letter home, maybe call, maybe check heads. Maybe they won’t. PPS: The District That Is Here For You.

Q: How many phone calls have you made so far?
A: Hmm. Counting my son’s class (and the afternoon pre-k, too, which seemed fair since they share the same room), my daughter’s class, the other second-grade class, the doctor’s office, the people I had appointments with this week (women’s group, my doc), in-laws who arrive Thursday (we told them it was OK to cancel, but they’re not worried) — that would make 8,000 calls.

Q: What did the doctor’s office say? RID, Nix and spray, right?
A: Wrong. Cetaphil hand lotion, with the lime-green label. Although I am now a lice expert, and none too happy about my status, I will tell you IF YOU GET LICE, CALL YOUR OWN DOCTOR, WHO WILL PROBABLY TELL YOU SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. Ours said: Slather all of our heads with Cetaphil. Leave it on for five minutes. Comb out excess. Blow dry on the hot setting until the hair is dry. (Don’t burn the kids’ heads while doing this.) Leave it on for 24 hours. Shampoo and condition with tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner. (OK to add some tea tree oil to your regular shampoo and conditioner — that works, too.)

Start picking through the hair. (One of my girlfriends says, “Make ’em wear a shower cap.” The other says, “No, they’re dying. Let ’em die and fall off. Or jump off.” (And hopefully not jump on anyone in the meantime. Excuse me — they crawl, they do not jump. Goddammit do those little things crawl fast. It’s frightening, really.) The doc’s office said no shower caps.

The doc’s office also said, I’m sorry, isn’t it horrible? Happy Easter!

We’ve picked through Wacky Girl’s hair ten times or so since Saturday at 5 p.m. when all hell broke loose. She has no live bugs anymore, but about a ton of eggs.

Q: They look like sesame seeds, right?
A: Wrong. They are about one-fourth the size of a sesame seed or possibly smaller. Lice seem to hate the tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner. It seems to work as a preventative and also as a treatment. Also good to use tea tree oil on the nit comb while you’re picking. Divide the hair into four sections, comb through it a tiny hunk at a time. Dip the comb in tea tree oil, comb, wipe on alcohol-soaked paper towel, repeat.

Q: Did your husband really tell someone you were going to end up in the insane asylum over this?
A: Yes, I believe he said this to several people. Then he left to go play hockey. Oh, and work.

Q: Any more bright ideas?
A: Well, I’m not sending the kids back to school until 1) we have no eggs (mid-June, probably? Right as school is ending?) 2) the staff checks every head of every second-grader 3) they send a letter home.

Q: So you’re home-schooling?
A: Yes. My husband is already planning to marry two or three additional wives, to help me pick nits and do the laundry. I’m going to start wearing one of those long blue denim dresses. And a bonnet. We may raise a barn and start keeping chickens.

Q: Ha ha ha ha — wait, you’re serious?
A: Yes. I let Wacky Boy make the schedule today. He wrote his name with a marker, then we did a graph (“Which sounds different?” with pictures below of a balloon, a ball and a fish), we had breakfast (only we called it “snack”), then he ran around for awhile with no pants on. Homeschooling = Nude Booty Dancing, it would appear. He and his sister did an art project (stamps) and then it was time for recess. Then my daughter rubbed her head against my son. (“If the lice fall off me, I won’t have them anymore!” — Wacky Girl.) Then her brother screamed and fell in the mud. “She bonked my head it hurt.”

Then he had a fit for 45 minutes because I made him change out of his cool (now muddy) khakis and into his uncool sweats. Also, I informed them we might not have time to go to the museum, because of all these shenanigans. Wacky Girl finished her homework from Lice School and read. Now they’re watching a Hello, Kitty video, in French. Oui!

“The police said ‘freakin’ — in French!” — Wacky Girl, repeating the dialogue from Hello, Kitty.

Foreign language, PE, art, writing, math, reading, we could count “mud and the backyard and bugs on our heads” as science, I suppose. Or science/health. And it’s not even 1 p.m. yet! I am planning to pour myself a glass of Ponzi Pinot Gris.


Q: God, you really are a dirty slut.
A: You ain’t a-woofin’.

* More? Check here, here and here.

* The doc’s office also told us to wash all bedding and worn clothing — plus coats — in hot water, then dry on hot cycle in dryer.

* We bagged hats, stuffed animals, coats that couldn’t go through wash — anything that couldn’t go through wash, like my grandma’s wedding quilt — into large, black trash bags. These we tied up, and they will sit in the basement for a month. Supposedly the lice can’t live without human hosts for longer than two weeks, but I say, let’s make it four weeks. Freezer supposedly doesn’t work — they go dormant? Who knows, but that’s what we were told.

* Rugs: We laundered or bagged. Couches, chairs, footstools and carpets: Vacuumed. Throw pillows: Bagged. Bed pillows: bagged. We each chose one to sleep with (I sleep with about a half-dozen pillows) and put those four bed pillows into the dryer on high for half an hour. I’m stacking all the laundry in the basement, on chairs (away from quarantined black bags) to make it easier for myself. Plus, I don’t want everything back in rotation because…

* We’re supposed to do the Cetaphil treatment and laundering of bedding, vacuuming, etc. weekly for the next three weeks. The nit-picking? I guess we’ll just do that daily now until the end of time.

Ed. to say: The principal called. “How are you?”

“I’m in Deep Shit, Arkansas,” I told her. “You?”

She is sending a letter home. They checked heads — all the heads — in my daughter’s class. They did not check heads in the other second-grade class. They did not check heads in any other classrooms.

I told her I really don’t feel like sending my kids back to school until all the second-graders are checked. (They go back and forth between the classrooms, with reading groups, so of course they pass the germs and bugs around.) She said she’ll check with the nurse.

I took the kids on errands — we dropped off the basket C brought over with food, and took her a bouquet of fresh rosemary as a thank you; we dropped off little Easter presents for two of my other girlfriends; we went to Hollywood Video and got a load of videos; we got take-out for lunch.

“Is this a field trip?” Wacky Girl asks.

“Yes. Absolutely.”

Once we were home, they wanted to work on a project they dreamed up this morning — naming all different kinds of transportation — skateboarding, flying, driving, walking, etc. I suggested they make posters to illustrate, so they did.

It’s 4, and we’re watching videos. I’m finally having the pinot gris. The laundry is not quite a mountain anymore. It’s more like a knoll. Cheers, all.


Re-edited later to say: Three more kids from my daughter’s class got sent home with lice. Kids who do not sit at my kid’s table, fyi. So, duh, CHECK THE WHOLE CLASS. Go the extra mile — check the whole school. A couple of three other kids were absent — either with bugs or because their parents want to avoid bugs. Damn.


  1. Terrible Mother says

    Oh, WM, lice suck. They do in all senses and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with the litany of delousing.

    ALSO can I say I cannot believe that PPSD does not send a note home and does not check heads? Kids at the Things elementary school here in Eugene get head checked regularly. And even their after school program sends a note home if someone is found to have lice. It’s totally catchy and a pain in the ass to get rid of and deal with. You should yell at the school and tell them everyone on your blog backs you up 100%.

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  2. Zipdodah says

    My name is Zipdodah, and I’m a “recovered” dirty slut.
    A few years ago, my youngest daughter came home with lice from the daycare….yes, the dreaded DAYCARE where all evil brews…provider had forgotten to tell everyone that there had been an outbreak. Forgot? Maybe she was just a dirty slut too.
    My daughter had live ones, big and small. She was sitting at the table when I noticed her scratching her head with both hands. Walking over to her I noticed creepy crawlies on her head. Needless to say..all hell broke loose.
    I swore to my husband that the one that fell off her head was still alive for days and days, lying in wait, that giant louse.
    We called three doctors, at least 5 friends, and family members, all gave us different answers on what to do. So very helpful to one who is in major bug panic mode.
    I ended up giving her a darling “crew cut” along with the rest of my family. I felt as though I was on the “gerbil wheel of laundry” for at least a month. All non-washables ended up in large garbage bags and were put in the garage. These items were never brought back into the house because I swore that big louse was still out there somewhere waiting for me. The weeks that ensued were, to say the least, stressful. Even you WM, were asked over and over to “Please check my head!” Remember?
    So I say YES to home schooling.
    I say NO to the school policy.
    I say YES they are assholes.
    And a big hoorah YES for Pinot Grigio.
    And YES it does make one long for an asylum visit….they do all the laundry…….

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  3. edj says

    The French school just automatically sends notes home every year, usually about twice.
    Also, in French, the word for lice is poux. (since you’re doing French as your foreign lang) and it’s a term of endearment, “Mon petit poux.” (pronounces pooh) Adults call kids that all the time. Just to add to that homeschooling! How are the chickens?

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  4. Mallory says

    Two words: Robi Comb. It is this little nit comb that runs on a battery and when it finds a live bug it zaps it and the hum stops. Then you clean out the bug or nit (it works great on nits) and keep a’ combing. I used to have a daycare, and kids were forever showing up lousy. The Robi Comb is great ‘cuz no pesticide on my kids’ heads, and it really works. The only thing that will cure them for good is nit picking, for 1 hr, every night for 2 wks. And yes, all of you should use tea tree. Call me if you want me to search your head. I have good eyes and lots of unfortunate experience. I would keep your gorgeous(!) long hair up in a bun for a while, too. Hugs and so so sorry this happened to a nice family like you guys. Not a dirty slut in the bunch.

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  5. Jen says

    As my brother the pharmacist once told a customer (it was after a long day in a chain pharmacy….) “Lice have no economic barriers”.
    I am still shaking my head about your school, helloooooo, public health? When I student taught in a poor school district, if we saw a kid scratching their heads, we would call the school nurse and she would come down and check the class. No questions, no attitude, just part of her job.
    Have to say, I learned a lot from your post, didn’t know about the cetaphil.
    I too was a dirty slut and got scabies in college, but at least it was just me and my laundry. Sending you some positive thoughts your way. Bet lice wasn’t in your wacky mom manual.
    BTW- I got tagged with the thinking blog award and tagged you again. What can I say….I get a kick out of your blog. (you really have a healthy perspective of life)

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  6. jen says

    Oh.My.God. This is my worst nightmare. If my son came home with lice I would just give up, throw in the towel, head for the hills. He has such unpredictable sensory issues that the mere thought of trying to delouse him sends me for the pinot gris.
    Found you from the other Jen here. :)

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  7. Anne says

    Good for you for raising hell, Wacky Mommy. The PPS lice policy SUCKS, to coin a phrase. Who thought that stupid stupid idea about 3 or more kids in one classroom before any notification or prevention takes place–the makers of RID?
    Portland Public School District administrators and those nurses from Multnomah Educational Service District should be doing your laundry and vacuuming your furniture. I had to do the same thing: raise hell, then keep my girl out of school, when multiple kids in my daughter’s class had lice.
    It catapulted me into homeschooling which was a good thing. It is now two years later and we are still homeschooling. I still remember the homeschooling/lice avoidance day when we made a toad garden in our yard. It was a magical day. We have had many more. And no I don’t have chickens and I don’t wear baggy denim dresses. And I still swear a lot just like I did when I was a PPS mom.
    It is a great sign that the other three family members do not have lice. You are a good mom. I am beginning to think if they don’t call you paranoid and negative you are not doing your job.

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  8. WackyMommy says

    Anne, no baggy dresses? Damn.

    April 10th, 2007 | #

  9. Anne says

    You have to go to the PPS site and look up lice. They have a “content standards for health education” rubric
    that explains that the benchmark for third graders in this area is to:
    Identify behaviors that
    transmit communicable
    diseases such as:
    ! colds/flu
    ! hepatitis
    ! impetigo
    ! lice infestation
    ! ringworm

    So next year when your girl is in 3rd grade she will be working towards her !lice benchmark. They don’t have that in 2nd grade, although I think they do study insects for their science benchmarks.

    Are you reassured to know there is a rubric about lice infestation and it’s part of an administrative directive? Who writes this gobbledygook anyway? I forgot. Highly paid adminstrators do.

    When I was on site council I kept saying Rubik (as in Rubuk’s cube) instead of rubric. This did not endear me to the administrator and one of the other parents who took those rubric charts VERY seriously.

    April 11th, 2007 | #

  10. Anne says

    Rubik’c cube, not Rubuk’s cube. I can’t even get that right.

    April 11th, 2007 | #

  11. Anne says

    Rubik’s cube, not Rubik’c cube. I should never type before I have my morning tea.

    April 11th, 2007 | #

  12. LIB says

    Oh, WM! I feel your pain!

    When my daughters were 5 and 8, the younger one went to before- and after-school care. At the daycare they checked heads and if a child had lice, didn’t let them beyond the front counter. One day I got the dreaded call at work, from the daycare about my youngest having lice.

    I left work, picked her up and then checked my 8 year old. At the time, she was wearing those stretchy, fabric headbands. When I took the headband off I found that MILLIONS OF NITS had been hiding under there. I. FREAKED. OUT. I felt like the WORLD”‘S WORST MOM. I spend the rest of the evening nit picking and beginning the laundry/bagging/vacuuming chores. I took the next day off work to do more laundry/bagging/vacuuming.

    When I first read the title of you post, I thought YOU PERSONALLY had lice. When we had our lice infestation even though I had no signs, I still shampooed with RID.

    I’m getting itchy just thinking about it. Will someone come over and check my scalp?

    April 11th, 2007 | #

  13. mamatoo says

    you (and your wacky family) are loved, my dear, lice and all! Homeschooling sounds fun at your place – mind if I send my kids to you instead of enrolling them at PPS?

    April 11th, 2007 | #

  14. WackyMommy says

    Mamatoo — Heh heh heh.

    And everyone — thanks for the kind words and advice. Much, much appreciated.

    April 11th, 2007 | #

  15. Wacky treatments says

    For all of you frustrated wacky mommies out there frustrated with a head lice outbreak look at some of the helpful articles we have put together for helping you treat your kids head lice at home with natural treatments, remedies, inspection tips, and house de lousing instructions. http://www.headlicehometreatment.com/

    Take care everyone

    April 18th, 2007 | #

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