A little pal Nora had a sleepover with has lice. We just found out. The poor mother sent out a mortified email. The Dad immediately shaved his head.images-1

Nora was at school when I read the email and I called the receptionist and she assured me there was no need to pull her out. They’d watch for an itchy scalp. I told Michael, he didn’t seem worried either. Okay. I’m not a spaz Mom. Lice like red heads best anyway. Right? I checked my own head haphazardly and then had to buzz off and clean a wealthy New Zealander’s apartment. His wife and kids are visiting, hence, two jars of marmite in the fridge instead of the usual one. What’s that about? I don’t bring a can of maple syrup when I travel through Europe. (damn that was a good rhyme!)

I pick up Nora at Michael’s and he hasn’t told her, he isn’t worried, he hasn’t done any research. Hm. Okay. “Nora, we have to check to see if you have lice…” She looks anxious. “I”m sure you don’t, but it’s good to check” says her dad. Well, call me hysterical but I head down to the drug store and get a medicated shampoo. And it’s when I actually whisper to the pharmacist “I’m looking for lice prevention…” that I feel the stigma. Where do you raise your child, Lucia? Under the back porch of an abandoned farm house in the mouldy Hells Angels side of Surrey?

I know, I know. Lice has nothing to do with poverty or cleanliness. Almost all of the mothers in my circle of friends, especially the elite parents with halos, have had to deal with lice. Apparently, the lice nowadays are getting resistant to medication so there seems to be more and more of it going around. The mothers I know have finally just cut their children’s hair short.

I look over at Nora’s waist long chestnut ringlets…

Despite the fact that I have whispered my request to the pharmacist he booms out loud enough for everyone in the store to hear, “There is no lice prevention. You wait until you see a louse or the eggs and then you use the shampoo.” Nora sinks her head lower into her parka.

The pharmacist has shiny thick black hair and a clean white scalp. This is all I’m looking at as he continues to megaphone his facts, dry and medicinal, no glass of water to wash it down.

I have a brief mean thought, “Oh yes, you’re enjoying this, aren’t you? You smug little pompadourean pez  dispenser.”

The mother checking out sleeping aids has been deciding for a while whether to jump in or not. She does but it costs her two burning red circles on her cheeks. “We had lice too, forever. Forever. The shampoo is useless. You need to get (such and such) nit comb and use conditioner and just comb them all out, diligently, every day. A great website is http://www.lice911.com)

Pompadour sighs.

I thank the Mom, buy the shampoo and check out the website. It’s very good. And it makes me want to vomit. It’s easy to see the nits and lice on the girl in the video: she’s blonde. Not so easy on a brunette with curls. I sit Nora down and comb painstakingly through her hair. Inch by inch by inch, I see nothing but soft tendrils and I am so relieved. I comb through her whole head carefully and announce, “I don’t see a thing!”

I set down the comb and out pops a louse, clear as day, wriggling on his back, right beside the comb.


Nora looks at me, I look at her. She blurts, “That can’t be from my head, Momma, that’s from you. Sorry. Sorry you have lice.”

We both pop into the shower and wash our hair and dry it off and then hide out naked and drippy for ten minutes with medicated shampoo on our heads. It’s not the kind of mother daughter bonding experience I expected tonight but we do feel like we’re “in this together”.

I comb through her hair again, this time with a nit comb. She says “You’re not going to find anything, Mom, but if you do, don’t tell me.”

I comb carefully through the first section, “All clear, looks good…” The second section behind her ear I find a louse in the comb and have to pluck it out. She says, “I’m fine right? I’m fine. Don’t tell me. Okay. You found one didn’t you? I know it.” “You said you didn’t want me to tell you.” “It’s okay. They’re dead, right?” “Yes, they’re dead.”

After half an hour, we’re all done. “How many, Mom?” “Five.”

We comb through my hair together and find none. I am extremely relieved. Thank God.

And Nora skips away fine. She’s not much bothered.

The next eight hours I clean the floors, the walls the sheets the towels the combs the hats the jackets the backpacks…I throw things in the dryer that shouldn’t be dried and things in the freezer that aren’t to eat. I look at the cat…

I’m not sure how to clean that.IMG_0065




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  1. David Pink

    “I had flash backs to the day my daughter had lice, poor kid, 10 years old and 3 days after she moved in with me. it was a very unpleasant experience that persisted for almost a month and back then the medicated shampoo worked better than today. We have recently discovered a natural and amazing organic product that works on lice and almost any other external or internal pest called ‘diatomaceous earth’. Many are familiar with DE as a way to kill slugs in the garden, but it also serves many other purposes and there is a food grade available for both pets and humans. If you visit our website http://freshstartedibles.com Diana has posted lots of info and links. Good luck with it.

  2. Karen Ydenberg White

    I feel your pain. Nix worked for us, plus lots of DVDs to keep them still while I checked. A good headlamp (and reading glasses)helpful.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      We did Nix and the very next day found live larvae in her hair…picked through all of that as you all suggested with tea tree and cream rinse…now to try and do myself…

  3. Medina

    We always get my step – daughter ( who has had lice by the way ) to put tea tree oil or diluted thieves oil behind her ears before school. Lice don’t like it.

    1. Lucia Frangione

      That’s a great idea!

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