When the Magpie first began daycare at just under two years old, she began to bring home every manner of cold virus and, occasionally, a really exciting viruses like hand, foot and mouth. Some she passed along – in the spirit of sharing, I suppose – and some she kept to herself. But, within a year, she acclimatized to the pool of bugs in the larger world and even the start of kindergarten at a new school a few years later couldn’t knock her off her feet for long.
But, within the realm of bugs, there are bugs and then there are bugs. With a science background, I am used to fondly referring to bacteria and viruses both as bugs. I forget that bugs – those things with legs and pincers – also qualify as bugs and also bother people beyond tramping across the kitchen floor or harassing tomato plants. Sometimes, they are fond of hair.
Until earlier this week, we had remained blissfully unaffected by the rare instances of head lice that make their way around the school. The school handles the notifications tactfully, but the kids don’t seem to care – they handle the concept of the actual bugs like they handle the concept of a cold virus. They each make their way around the school; they each give you a reason to go home for a day or two and get over them. After notification of a recent bug siting on Tuesday, I got the call on Wednesday morning that the Magpie, too, was now affected “in the early stages”. I got to leave work and head [no pun intended] over to pick her up before going to the nearest drugstore for a fine-toothed comb and unpleasantly scented shampoos.
Oh, and even before I hung up the phone, my scalp became itchy. Horribly, horribly itchy…
So, we got the supplies, got the number of a professional, got home and – before even starting the shower – I started looking for things that needed to be soaked in scalding hot water.
Bed sheets, towels, clothes, jackets and blankets were all washed in hot water and dried on maximum heat [forgive me, dear environment] . Shrinkage be damned. The floors, mattresses and furniture were vacuumed and sprayed. [caveat: this cleaner is not for this purpose - it just made me feel better to use it] Stuffed animals were quarantined. The kid was bathed and shampooed and set on the newly cleaned couch a top of several previously cleaned towels that could then be washed again later in more hot water.
All the while, I could feel every strand of my own hair – and that was a lot more than I ever knew I had.
After six loads of laundry and a few long hours later, the Magpie was retreated by a lady who really knew what she was doing [as opposed to me, whose attempts to locate and remove a few little eggs only proved how bad my eyesight really is and how non-fine toothed my comb was]. Mr.Q and I were exonerated and the Magpie sent to her cleaned and changed bed.
The next day, Magpie returned to school – screened and approved by her teachers – and we are living in ponytails while we wait for an undetermined amount of time before we feel comfortable that the bugs no longer threaten us and my head stops psychosomatically itching.
But my house is clean[er]. I am actually caught up on laundry. Never has a child’s hair been so well washed. But happiest is the cat; she gets to sleep on the piles of clean sheets that sit on my clean bedroom floor.
Because, seriously, cleaning and shampooing and combing are doable. Watching for itchiness for the next few weeks is perfectly reasonable. Pony tails can be done every morning.
But who actually ever wants to fold the fitted sheets?