That Monday after the lice treatment, we sent the kiddo to school as usual. Any nits that had somehow been overlooked would not have been viable, so there was no reason to keep her at home. However...
I was tormented by the question of where the darned lice had come from. The potential culprits were school, church, or the gym. School seemed like the most likely, and I thought about the kiddo's class room. Each child has his or her own hook to hang their coats on, which isn't an issue in the fall when all they wear are light jackets. In the winter, though, when everyone wears thick, bulky coats or jackets, they all overlap. A critter could easily crawl from one coat to another. I had just had the absolute worst weekend of my life, and I was not about to let my family go through that again.
So...as I walked the kiddo to school, I ordered her not to let her head touch anyone else's head. No sharing hats. No using anyone else's comb. Then, the kicker: when we arrived at the door, hubby stripped the kiddo's coat off her and I stuffed in into her backpack. I let her know that under no circumstances was she to hang her coat up on her hook, and if anyone had a problem with that, they needed to talk to me. She agreed, maybe only because the memory of our miserable weekend was still fresh, or maybe because it was cold outside and she just wanted to go in.
Once I returned home, I stripped the kiddo's bed and washed her sheets, jammies, and her one allotted stuffed animal and baked them in the dryer. After school, as soon as we got home, I took her coat, scarf, and hat and washed and baked them, too.
That night, we slicked up the kiddo's hair and we all endured the torture of combing and head scrutiny.
We stuffed the kiddo's coat into her backpack or into a plastic bag every day until the end of the cold weather. The daily washing and baking continued for two weeks. The nightly checks went on for months. I also recalled the Walgreen cashier's comment that hairspray keeps lice off, so every morning I shellacked the kiddo's head with Aqua Net.
One person who should have been on my side more or less told me that it was my own fault that the kiddo had lice. See if you can follow along: because we walk to school, the kiddo is usually late (not true). She likes to talk to people in the hall, so she is always late to her classroom (she does like to talk to her friends, but aren't there, like, staff who help get the kids to class in the morning?). Since the kiddo is "always" late, she throws her coat on the floor in the coat area, instead of hanging it up (it happened once or twice in the fall and was dealt with and and the matter was resolved). Lice apparently live on the floor and never die, so they just naturally gravitated toward her coat (so ridiculous that it doesn't merit further comment). (Note: this is not the kiddo's 1st grade teacher, who is the nicest, most understanding person ever. Just saying...)
No other cases of lice were reported in the 1st grade, nor at church or at the gym...I was stumped. Perhaps if a clear culprit had been found and dealt with, I could have relaxed a bit, but, as I said, our new routine went on for months. We got rid of those vermin in under a week, but I was determined that they would not stage a comeback. We received a letter from the school, stating that "we have discovered one or more cases of head lice". Hubby blew up over that, saying "They didn't discover anything. I discovered them!"--true that.
The hardest part was telling the moms of the kiddo's friends that she had been treated for, gulp, lice. I had told my one friend and had received such an understanding response, but I was horrified to tell anyone else. Then I got over it. I heard so many comments like "I had them when I was a kid" and "That happened to us last year" that I stopped worrying about being embarrassed.
Lice are not the end of the world. Rape and murder still top my list of scariest things ever, and really, there are worse contenders for spot number three. However, the stigma attached to lice is formidable, not to mention the fact that we humans are hardwired to dislike bugs. I have come to the conclusion, though, that my main problem with lice is that they are a violation of one's person. The unpleasant itching, the itchy, burning rash--yes, they make sufferers miserable, but their unwanted presence is torture. Lice clamp onto the hair shaft, and the substance that binds the nits to the hair is as strong as cement. Once they choose a host, they won't leave without a fight. My preventative measures were laughable, although the essential oils in Lice Shield seem to be good at warding off mosquitoes.
So, is your head itching now?