A few days ago Gabe walked by with a look of consternation on his face. He is a child who suffers many things in silence so I quickly asked him if everything was okay. He replied with the words that every mother dreads with every fiber of her being, "my head itches!"

Forcing myself to remain calm I casually told him to come over so I could have a look. I have read enough about the dreaded scourge of lice to know that you should check behind the ears and at the nape of the neck for the tell-tale signs of a parasite having set up its happy home on your child's head. So that is where I went. And, oh..horror of horrors, my heart failed me, the little shiny dots glistened in the sunlight. Just like you read about! I'm not going to lie, it was like an out of body experience. Scenes from my life flashed before my eyes.

You know, you wake up one day and it is just like any other day, life is happy, you have pleasant plans for lunch, all is well in your world. And then, in one moment, one cursory head-check, everything is changed forever. What you have actively feared and dreaded since you were a young child has actually come to pass. It has happened to you. What previously only happened to other pitiable people. It has happened to you. You are one of those poor saps who will now have to shuffle into the pharmacy wearing a cheap disguise, hoping nobody is around as you search for a suitably deadly pesticide to spray on your child's tender head. I still don't think it has sunk in that I am a survivor of such an experience.

If you don't know me and have not frequented my blog regularly, you may have missed that I am a tad OCD and am quite, shall we say ungracious towards other people when their children are sick. As in, "get your sick kid away from mine woman! I don't know what makes you think we were ever even friends!". Ok well not quite as bad as that, but close. Prior to events where I suspect a sick child may be in attendance, my children are carefully instructed to steer clear of said snotty child, and have been known to enter a house where we are being graciously hosted, with hand outstretched in warning before them, stridently proclaiming, "stay away from me with your cold!" I have already started a therapy fund for the damage I have inflicted on my children's collective psyche, you must give me credit for that at least.

My friends I must say, are incredibly kind and long-suffering to put up with my open hostility in the face of germs with such good grace. I don't like myself for being this way, and I really have tried very hard to chill a little more each year, it is just that along with the OCD issues, I am quite attached to sleep and my remaining shreds of sanity and such. The problem is that my kids rarely come down with stuff at the same time. They make it a 4 week long relay, at the end of which, their mother is a wild eyed shell of a woman. Also, I am unstable. I make no secret of this.

Anyway. so because I am such a persnickity cow over everyone else's children's germs I did get the instant miserably resigned sense that this was poetic justice, or karma, coming back to bite me in the...scalp, if you will. The mother of all gross infestations and afflictions. The louse. Had come upon my house.

Ironically my neighbour Tiffany called just at the moment of my discovery. My children had, as luck would have it, been at her house just the night before for her son's birthday party. I broke the news to her. She remained calm and friendly which further humbled me since I'm pretty sure the same would not have been true had the roles been reversed. (I believe she will heartily attest to this).

What surprised me most was that after the initial horror and flashbacks which were accompanied with the soundtrack from the shower scene in Psycho, an eerie calm came upon me. What I had feared so profoundly for so long was happening and I had to deal with it. Because I Am The Mommy. I could not lie on the floor helplessly convulsing with revulsion, because I have at least one child who is desperately afraid of bugs and I had to break it to her that the bugs were now a thriving community on her very head. When I did tell her, the inevitable twitching and the howling commenced, (I'm thinking my unusually calm and measured tones were freaking her out even more then the idea that she was at one with the bugs) but she too regained her composure surprisingly quickly.

Then I put in a call to my friend Kathleen. Many years ago I made this page for her as a tribute to her unflappable handling of any type of grossness. And oh ho ho, it was just such a funny joke. (She really does have a great sense of humour, obviously, as we remain friends).

But today the joke became my life-line. I knew I needed Nit-Girl and I needed her now! I called out to her but she did not hear me. Apparently even super-heroines can't hear you from Canada. So I called Nit-girl using the modern wonder of the telephone. She was not there and there were no indications as to when she would return. I turned to my long-time internet playgroup community. In 8+ years they have never failed me. They all heaped sympathy and commiseration upon me and equipped me with the knowledge I would need to commence my blitz until such a time as my husband could come home from work armed with the necessary weapons of war.

Then I put a call in to my friend Julie. She has recently been a long distance hand-holder to her sister who had endured this with her own children. Serendipitously, she was IMing said sister at the very moment of my call, and received valuable input to pass onto me. Julie is loyal, willing and calm in times of crisis. I gave her a shopping list of what I needed which she agreed to procure with great haste.

A short time later, Julie was on my doorstep, unloading the following:

  • 2 Large bottles of Mayonnaise
  • 1 package of Nit picking combs
  • 1 can of Kill All Hateful Things That May Possibly Be Lurking On Your Furniture Stuff
  • 6 shower caps in varying cheerful patterns
  • 1 Large box of chocolates. (I didn't order these, she just sensed the need.)

As she beat her hasty retreat Benjamin (9) walked into the kitchen shaking his head in wonder and said, "you know, Julie is incredible". Indeed, I say. Indeed. (I too am in denial regarding her imminent departure)

It was at this point that Kathleen called to talk me through what I was to do with the mayonnaise, shower caps, combs and chocolate. Nit Girl did not fail me.

I think I will save the exact method of eradication for a WFMW post as it is good stuff. The collective gathering of much been there done that wisdom and compassion went into the process. Suffice to say, we made for a strange looking and some would say,(louder then others) unpleasant smelling group, and I spent at least 13 straight hours that day nit-picking.

The one thing that can be comforting to the friends of an OCD with a lice infestation, is that you can be sure the threat will be contained. No fear that she will rest until it is. Our louse does not leave our house.

Happily only Gabe and blessedly, Gracie (aka Repunzel) to a much lesser extent, were afflicted. But we all took the same precautionary measures. And each individual living here has submitted themselves to hourly checks since the Horrifying Discovery.

Here is a photo of our sorry selves on Friday afternoon, just for my mother, who having instilled the lifelong phobia of lice in my young and impressionable mind, could do nothing but laugh hysterically when I regaled her with the vision of the Shower-cap Family.

Speaking of out of body experiences, I am finding it somewhat surreal to think that I am about to share with the world at large, a photo of myself slathered in mayonnaise, sans makeup, in a shower cap and my special hair dying robe. (This is where former boyfriends weep at the one that got away). You will also note that whilst the couch slipcovers were being boiled and sanitized, along with every other object in the house, the former glory of our sofas was revealed. I have no more secrets people. (Carolyn, I believe that is your blog I am reading there to ease my pain).

I apologize there should have been a warning before you were able to open this post but I'm not that high tech.

There is a possibility that I will be single after my husband sees this picture. I could also see him losing his job over it. I should not post when I'm all hopped up on chocolate. You always regret it in the morning. Here's my lousy family. Loving how Aaron and Benj are rallying and how the others are so expressive with their genuine emotions.

I'm reading: Pestilence!!Tweet this!


Jen Lynn said...

Now I have someone to turn to should we ever be so graciously visited by the nasties.

Kim said...

Oh my goodness! Every mother's fear! You handled it with grace and humor, something I'm not sure I could do. Congratulations on surviving the pestilence!

nyn said...

OH my dear Kirsty. You handled this much much better than I did when this decended on my home when Elise was in Pre-school. All I wanted to do was shave her head bald. All the hours of lice picking had me insane to the point of getting out Shae's razor and Shaving cream and mid lathering to shave hair off, my good friend showed up and helped. What would we do with out the friends who aren't obscenely OCD and can help us through these times of crisis?I wish you a lice free home and much happiness. My thoughts and love are with you. I would have died having to de-louse four children. YIKES!!!

Stephen Tvedten said...

You can safely and effectively kill lice with salt water or a sauna - learn how to kill lice without killing yourself or the earth......

Pediculicide POISONS do not remove nits and are dangerous. Among the reactions to poison shampoo or lice "treatments" are seizures, mental retardation, many different allergies and respiratory problems, strange tingling, burning, itching, attention deficit disorders, brain tumors, leukemia, cancer and death.

I have used a sauna and/or salt water to safely and effectiely kill lice (but the nits remain).

I have also used ½ oz. of Safe Solutions, Inc. Lice R Gone® Enzyme Shampoo and/or their Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint per shampoo-type application to safely remove both lice and nits.

Read how to safely control all pests at

Kirsty said...

**Jen-all you need to do is move back to BG and I will be your personal NitGirl. Come on, isn't that a great offer??! I was thinking that someone should open a place where you could drop your kids off for the day and they will deal with it. Wouldn't that be nice. Somebody told me that such places exist in big cities and maybe I should franchise. Now there's an idea!

**Thanks Kim, I'm not sure how much grace and humour I will have if they should reappear. We will cross our fingers that we don't have to find out eh? ;)

** LOL Carolyn, I can just picture you poised with razor in hand only to be saved by a friend who had listened to a the prompting to come to your door! Fortunately it was just 2 kids really who needed to be de-loused but we all had the preventative treatment.

**Hi Steven
The mayonnaise treatment worked great in killing the lice and is much better for your hair condition then salt and heat I imagine.

I heretoforth recommend it to everyone because as you say, the lice are becoming immune to those poisons and they are really very dangerous and not guaranteed to be effective. According to my friend Nit Girl, lice breathe through their legs so when you coat your head (and them) in mayonnaise for long enough they will suffocate, and that is a sure thing. When you wash the mayonnaise out, they rinse out with it. There is still the matter of getting nit free but you end up with very shiny hair smooth hair which makes the combing for nits easier (its also easier then finding someone who will let you stuff your lousy children in a sauna. Saunas are also not very safe for kids and I can't see mine sitting in there for more then 10 seconds (there was enough whining for the shower caps).

Let's hear it for the mayo!!

Thanks for the link, I will check it out for any other pests I may have to endure.