Back to School: Lice Edition

Even the mere mention of the word lice makes me want to itch. I remember getting it a LOT as a kid. And I mean… it was a constant battle in our house to rid our heads of the literal parasites. My poor mom washed and vacuumed and sprayed and picked in an endless cycle. She took all of our stuffed animals, put them in one of those over-sized black trash bags, and stuck them in the attic to both suffocate and char them to death in the Texas heat. She spent a ridiculous amount of money on at-home treatments that killed the lice just fine, but did nothing to keep them from coming back.

My mom’s final resort? Chopping off most of my hair.

In retrospect, I totally understand why she did it, but at the time she was basically Satan incarnate in my eyes. My hair was part of my identity, and a bunch of little blood-sucking you-know-whats stole that from me. At school, kids made fun of me because I “look[ed] like a boy!” To top it all off, most of them knew my hair was gone because of a lice problem, and this made me an immediate outcast, pushed out like a leper.

Let me clear the air about one thing right up front: Having head lice does not mean that a child has poor hygiene or is dirty. This is seriously one of the most frustrating misconceptions about lice, and it often leads others kids, and even some adults, looking down on kids who get lice like less-than human beings because of something that is basically synonymous with childhood.

Spread the word: lice ≠ poor hygiene/dirty hair/dirty home

Lice, unlike our society, are strictly nondiscriminatory. They don’t care what kind of hair you have so long as they have a place to chill and eat and lay their eggs. Like hipsters, you know? (totally kidding. kinda)

While I can’t offer you a miracle solution to the lice epidemic that spares no child, home, or school, I can offer you some information about lice to help you handle them if/when they appear:

lice_lifecycle


  1. Some things shouldn’t be shared: Remind your kids as school begins not to share hairbrushes, combs, hats, scarves, or even headphones and hair accessories. One of several lice misconceptions is that they can be spread by Spiderman-ing from head to head. Lice don’t jump or fly or web-sling across the classroom, but they can hitch a ride on items worn on or around the head, as well as by–and most commonly through–head to head contact.
  2. Perform frequent head checks: Seriously, I know it sounds tedious, and it’s not like you NEED one more thing to do between work/carpools/sports/ballet/charitable works, but the earlier you catch lice, the better. Female lice can lay anywhere between 6 to 10 eggs (nits, w.e.) a day. They hatch in 7 to 10 days, and can start laying their own little parasites within another 7 to 10 days; all this while you have no idea what’s going on because some kids don’t even itch–which is usually the first sign to parents. I suck at maths, but they can multiply pretty quickly if they aren’t caught early. Think about scheduling a weekly or bi-weekly lice check on your kiddos. And please, please, check your child’s head before school starts.
  3. Don’t rely on your kids to itch as the first sign: Only people who are allergic to the saliva produced by the lice will itch, and more than half of people who get lice are not allergic. Don’t be like me and wait until you see a huge fat louse crawling across your kid’s head at McDonald’s to realize something is up.
  4. Don’t blame it on the pet: Okay, I may have said that lice are nondiscriminatory, but that was partially a lie. They are discriminatory when it comes to the species of their hosts. They prefer humans, not Lassie to the dog or Snowball the cat, and by “prefer” I mean they only pester humans. So don’t blame the pets.
  5. Little Susie and Jack will not get Bubonic Plague from lice: Lice are not known to transmit diseases. The worst that can happen is a secondary infection from your kiddo scratching the bites.
  6. Your pediatrician can help! I took a chance and decided to tell my children’s pediatrician that we were fighting with a lice infestation on three of my four children. Nothing over-the-counter would work. I combed and combed, and picked and picked, and washed and washed to no avail. I did everything by the book. I felt like my mom, but I was determined not to chop off the children’s hair (which, by the way, is also a misconceived idea. Cutting off their hair short of shaving them bald does not guarantee a solution). The doctor wrote me a prescription for “Sklice“, and seriously it works wonders. So don’t be embarrassed to tell your pediatrician about a lice issue at home.
  7. Don’t solely rely on “preventative” oils, sprays, shampoos: I can’t speak on a scientific level about the effectiveness of using things like tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oils as lice repellents, though we have used tea tree oil in the our shampoo and conditioners, but my kids still got a case of lice last year after my niece came home with it from another family member’s house. Also be aware that some kids may have sensitivities or mild allergies to these things. And if you plan on trying to “smother” or “drown” the lice in mayonnaise or Coke (yes, the beverage) or coconut oil, just keep in mind that lice can hold their breath for up to 8 hours because biology is weird.
  8. Keep yourself educated: I’m going to include several links at the bottom of this post because it’s good to keep in the know. Also because the Parenting 101 handbook I got after my kids were born doesn’t include a “how to handle a Biblical plague in your own home!” section. (Literally, lice were part of the third plague the Lord sent over Egypt)
  9. You’re not a bad parent if your kid gets lice: Lice happen. Like I said before, it doesn’t mean that you’re not keeping your kid or your home clean enough (unless you aren’t, which that’s between you and the Lord), or that you’re a bad parent. Seriously. Kids get cuts and scrapes and bruises, and lice. It’s not like chicken pox or polio, for which there are vaccines and you just choose not to immunize them. It’s not a moral dilemma. Just take a deep breath, get yourself a lice comb and a beer/glass of wine, and get to picking off lice like adulthood picked off my hopes and dreams. (totally kidding)

(see below for resource links)

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(P.S. – Mom, I’m totally over you cutting off all my hair. Love ya!)

Here’s What You Do When Your Kid Makes A HUGE Egg Mess

Step one: Don’t PANIC!

(You can skip past the narrative and head to the bottom for the rest of the steps, if you’d like)

No, seriously. Two mornings ago I had my Here's What You Do WhenYour Kid Makes A HUGE Egg Mess.pngalmost-2-year-old helping me clean up the mess he made in his sister’s room when he wandered off on to a bigger and better mess that involved an entire carton of eggs. Most parents know just how fast kids can get into things, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in a mere TWO minutes, me managed to crack every. single. egg. All over our kitchen floor. Not only that, he decided to bathe in them.

A friend of mine made the comment that this must be a rite of passage for kids. My oldest son did this on a lesser scale, but on CARPET! My daughter had her rite of passage when she set our microwave on fire at the age of 2, while trying to make herself some oatmeal. And I’m pretty sure that it was my middle son who spilled red Kool-aid all over the kitchen once. (Thank you, Jesus, for magic erasers because red Kool-aid stains SO bad.)

You would think that after raising three other children through their toddler years, I would be pretty well versed in messes of all shapes and sizes. Nope. I walked around the corner into our kitchen and almost lost my s***. I didn’t even know where to begin cleaning up this mess, especially since I had to leave in 10 minutes to get my daughter from pre-school. So first order of business was to clean up the baby.

I let the egg-catastrophe sit and stew while I picked her up, but afterwards I grabbed three of our biggest, thickest towels and proceeded to mop up the sticky, gooey mess. Thirty minutes, two gallons of soapy water, and two Swiffer sweeper pads later and VOILA! My kitchen floor is still sticky.

Toddler: 1, Mom: 0

It wasn’t until a day later that friends began giving me advice on how I could have cleaned up the mess without so much expenditure. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? So here’s what they told me:

How To Clean Up A HUGE Egg Mess!


For Hard Surfaces:

Step One: Don’t Panic

– That’s what the kid(s) wants us to do! Because nothing makes their day quite like watching mommy and/or daddy flip their lid. At least in this house.

Step Two: Shake It Like A Salt Shaker

– While you may be tempted to tackle the mess head-on with paper towels, start with some table salt, instead. That’s right. Whip out that good ole’ container of table salt and sprinkle it generously over the egg mess. This is even something you can get your little mess-maker to help you with, since they like spilling stuff all over the floor–apparently.

Make sure you get the whole spill, and then let it sit for ten minutes. And while you’re waiting, you can take the opportunity to give your touch-every-hard-surface-in-sight, adorable little cherub a bath!

Step Three: Wipe On, Wipe Off

– Take your paper towel of choice, whether yours are made from a lumberjack’s chest hair or quilted from a grandmother’s hugs and kisses, and wipe up the egg mess! The salt helps solidify the gooey egg-guts that are nearly impossible to wipe up otherwise. Why? Because science. Then you can just take your Swiffer sweeper-mop for a round over the residual stickiness, or a Clorox wipe, or just good wholesome soap and water.

Be smarter than me. Try these steps.

Now…


For Carpet!

(I am so, so sorry if this is you)

Step One: Remove the Excess

(I’m not even going to bother telling you to stay calm because, like, there’s egg on your carpet. Who can stay calm for that?)

– Use a spatula or another flat-edged utensil to carefully scrape up the excess egg. If the yolk isn’t broken, God be with you that you don’t break it yourself.

Step Two: Cold Water ONLY

– Take two cups of cold (seriously, do not use warm or hot water unless you want to cook that egg into your carpet) water and two tablespoons of dish detergent, and dab–DAB!–at the stain from the outside –> in, until the stain is gone.

Step three: Patience is Key

– It may take a few passes to get the stain out, in which case you want to pat the stain dry between cleanings. However, once the stain is gone, pour yourself a glass of wine, or pop open your favorite stout, and pat that once-egg-mess with cold water, then use a dry cloth to pat it dry.

(I am not responsible for any spilled alcoholic beverages on your carpet)

Scrape, dab, pat!


Now, if you’re not here because you have an egg mess to clean, and you’re just looking for a good time, I invite you to check out the video proof of what my almost-2-year-old did to my kitchen, and my eggs.

If you ARE here because you have an egg mess to clean, then I invite you to watch the video proof that you, my friend, are not alone. #Solidarity, amirite?

Let me just say egg mess one more time,

Egg mess!

Struggling With Resentment As a Foster Family

     Five months ago, my husband and I gotStruggling With ResentmentAs a Foster Family a call that would completely change the dynamic of our family. A month or so before, my niece had been taken into CPS custody, and the person with whom she was staying was moving and could not take her with them. We got a call from a family member asking if we would be willing to take in my niece, and we only had hours to decide. If we chose not to, she would be placed in foster care instead of with a relative.

     We knew from the beginning it would be difficult. With four children of our own, including a then-9-month-old, and already struggling financially, we weren’t naïve about the impact this would have on us all. But the well-being of our 18-month-old niece trumped our fears–plus, we knew we’d have the support and help of our family and parish family–and so we made the necessary preparations, and took her in.

     Five months later, resentment has taken up a stronghold in my heart. The resentment is not towards my niece, but rather towards this situation, and honestly, towards a particular family member, and sometimes, towards other people.

     You see, caring for my niece has not been easy. Not that I expected it would be; having four of my own, I’m pretty well versed in the difficulties of parenting. But, my niece struggles with things most other children do not. From the time she was born, she has not had much stability. Place to place, person to person, my niece was forced to adapt to a constantly changing environment and constantly being around strangers. Because of this, she is abnormally comfortable around new people. No, this is not a good thing. Where most children feel guarded and cautious, she’ll walk up to any Joe-Schmo and asked to be held, and even go with them. Our pediatrician says this is typical of young children with abandonment issues.

     She is far behind in certain developmental aspects, especially speech. Because of this, her primary method of communication is pointing and screaming, which, as you can imagine, can cause quite a headache.

     I don’t say these things to be down on my niece, but rather to show that she’s had a hard life, and because of that, she’s been strongly affected emotionally and psychologically. And we’re the ones left to stitch her childhood back together.

     As I said, this is not a resentment toward my niece, but rather toward the person who put her in this situation.

     You see, the person who began all of this does not see how much this has taken time and attention away from my own children. They don’t see–or care to see–how much more stressful life has become for us, for our children, and for my niece (who now has to adapt to yet another new environment). They didn’t see all the red tape and hoops of fire we had to jump through just to get my niece’s PCP changed so that she could see a doctor and a speech pathologist.

     They don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears we have poured into giving this little girl a stable, loving, and comfortable home for once. They don’t see the grocery bill, the gas bill from us taking her back-and-forth to visitations an hour away that they don’t even come to.

     They fail to understand that children are not an accessory. They are not something you wave around on Facebook or Snapchat to make yourself look like a caring, doting parent. You can’t love children only when it’s convenient; you can’t care about them only         when it’s convenient to your lifestyle.

     As for my resentment towards other people, allow me my own selfish moment to say this: my niece is not the only one for whom this has been difficult. I know that people mean well. They look at my niece, they hear the background, and they flock to her with oo’s and ah’s and all the poor thing‘s and bless her heart‘s they can muster. Yes, she’s had a hard life, and yes, she’s in a heartbreaking situation, but she’s not the only one who needs the affection.

     There are four other children who have also been emotionally displaced by this. And yes, it makes me bitter, jealous, and angry when I see so much attention and pity taken on my niece, while nothing goes to my own children. It hasn’t been easy for them either. They aren’t old enough yet to fully understand why we’ve taken in my niece. All they see is this other child who requires a major amount of attention, affection, and redirection. All they see is this other child who receives so many passes from other people for temper-tantrums and outbursts and violence, while they get none.

     (Not that I believe ANY of them should get passes on these things; I treat them all equally. They are both punished and praised for the same things. Differences in age taken into account, of course.)

     It sounds petty, but it’s the truth. These are the thoughts and feelings I’ve been struggling with for some time now. I try not to feel this way, I really do. And I’m not looking for answers, or for apologies from a certain person because they aren’t really owed to me, anyways. I really just needed to get this off my chest before it ate me alive.

      But at the end of the day, I know that these struggles, these trials, are totally worth it. Cliché as it may sound. To know that our niece is in a safe, loving, and stable environment trumps the stress. To know that she has a better shot at life with us than she would anywhere else right now, makes it easier to get through the tough moments when she’s screaming at the top of her lungs and our other children are losing their heads and making demands.

     The first time our niece successfully picked up a spoon and fed herself was an awesome feeling. When she finally began to play independently, imaginatively, we were ecstatic. There’s still a long road ahead. We’re still trying to get her talking, or at least using sign language to communicate, but we’ll get there. It’ll take time, and a hell of a lot of effort, but we’ll get there. Eventually I’ll get over all my resentment and negative feels, until then, I continue to tread on, fighting the good fight.