Last Thursday I spent the day getting the house ready to receive some friends for the weekend - fortunately they were due to arrive past midnight, which though quite late, gave me the extra hours I needed I get organised. I was still working on laundry since our return from the Labour Day long weekend, and was still behind. I was due to wash Oliver's hair that night too, which you might know takes an hour.
I'll mention here that I don't tend to believe in signs. Years and years ago I noticed how superstitious I'd become over time (which is really about controlling the things around you) so I squashed that crap, and stopped giving hocus-pocus any kind of power in my life.
But on Thursday, two things happened:
First, in cleaning up of all the papers and notices we've been drowning in since the start of school, I finally opened the file box I have for those things, and tossed out last year's stuff but the handful. One such notice? The kit on "How to tell if your kid has head lice" which I quickly glanced over, and wondered when this year's package would arrive. 'Tis the season, I thought.
I might not have given that any more thought, until my daughter came into the kitchen and sat on the TV remote by mistake - suddenly Jason Bateman was on my screen talking with Jennifer Aniston on the telephone, in a scene from The Switch. (I've seen it before - it's very meh, but he's such a cutie, I just left it on.) The next time I looked up, he was standing over her kid's head holding a magnifying glass, picking at "nit" with a tiny comb. I smirked thinking, "That's soooo not what a nit looks like..." since I remember what they're like in actuality. Besides, I'd just been refreshed on the subject, as I'd tossed those pamphlets not more than an hour prior.
(That was the second thing, but I'm choosing to just call it a coincidence, so I don't make my mind all crazy.)
So later that evening, while Oliver was finishing up his homework, and scratching at his head with both hands... was that the third time I'd noticed him do that, or the fourth?... when I spread his locks apart with my hands, searching for tell-tale signs of the dreaded lice, I saw nothing suspicious. I put him in the bath soon afterward and spent and extra 15 minutes going over his head after the shampoo and conditioner, but found nothing.
I checked again in the light of the morning sun, near a window, but saw nothing to be worried about, so I sent him off to school, making a mental note to pick up some kind of lice treatment stuff at some point during the day. If he didn't have it now, it might still be a possibility... 'tis the season, after all.
After a morning of hanging out with our late-arriving guests (they showed up at 1:15 AM, and we caught up over a few beers before all going to bed around 2:30 AM...) I finished up the laundry and did some grocery shopping, while they spent the day with some other friends in town. I tried to put my head down for 30 minutes before Oliver got home from school, since there was still dinner to get sorted out, and then drinks out with some other friends after that.
I was already exhausted.
Of course, when Oliver got home, I had a look at his head in the light by the window again, while he snacked on some cookies. And after about three minutes of searching, I found a nit.
And then I found another one.
And then another...
Oh god. Oh god. Oh god.
He: I have lice again?
Me: Hmmm... it would appear so.
He: But, it's not fair! Why?! *tsk*
Me: I know, Boo... I'm so sorry.
He: I don't want to cut it.
Me: I know you don't. And I understand, but... well, we've talked about this...
He: But I really... *groans* It's not FAIR, mummy! I really don't want to cut it. *sad panda face*
What the hell am I going to do? How will I do this now, and with people visiting, and sleeping here... oh god! And when will I... dinner... drinks tonight?... When do I strip the beds? And gather up all the things... and all... the... laundry... oh, BALLS!!
Me: Look, we can try. I'll try to work on it if you want me to, but we have to start now, because I need the daylight to look properly. And we'll have to do the shampoo, and then go through it all... it's going to take several hours. Bet, we can try.
He: But, I want to go outside and play with my friends...
Me: I know, Boo, but we need to get started now... right?
He: I don't really want to cut it.
Me: I know, baby. But, it's not what makes you special. It's not what makes you handsome...
He: *glumly* I know. *sighs*
Me: *le sighs*
He: Okay... let's just cut it then.
Me: Really? You don't have to decide this minute...
He: No, it's okay. I'm ready. But, I really want to play with my friends now... can I just go outside for a while? And we can cut it later?
Me: Um... I guess that's okay. Just don't get super close with the other kids. You know. That's how other kids get it.
He: *pissed* Who did I get it from?
Me: Awww, you know it's impossible to tell.
He: Well, it's not fair.
Me: I know.
And he did go outside to play. And I told the other mums to check their kids' heads. As he'd pass me in the park, zipping around, I'd ask him if he was okay, and he kept reiterating that he was ready to cut it. And I could see he really felt fine about it, which was such a relief to me - the last time we had to cut it, he cried so hard, I thought he'd never recover.
After a lovely and delicious grilled dinner with our guests, we got set to do the deed. Bon Iver was playing in the background, and the words of the gentle and haunting Holocene went, "...and at once I knew... I was not... magnificent..." and Martin snipped Oliver's curls close to his head with a chomp-chomp-chomp sound, and I turned my head as a few tears fell out of my eyes. My tired and emotional self honestly just couldn't help it.
My friends eyes were bright with tears too, and we hugged each other, as I tried not to sob.
Oliver was great, though. He didn't smile much, but he didn't cry either. I asked Martin to just cut from the sides, and leave a mowhawk for a few minutes. My kid totally looked like that dude from Fishbone.
But, of course we had to cut it all... and after another pass with the clippers in the morning, he's looking like this now:
My sweet boy looking suddenly much older... but still happy, and still handsome.
I keep seeing him pass by mirrors in the house, checking himself out, petting his strange-feeling little head, and smiling, thank goodness. He pressed his forehead to mine, and ran his hands over my head, as I did the same to him. "You need a haircut too," he said.
Yesterday, I washed just about EVERYTHING we own, while Martin vacuumed the house from top to bottom. In between, we checked Madame's head, as well as each other's, and tried not to scratch in that psychosomatic way that one can't help but do when the word "lice" comes into your world. (You're scratching our head right now, aren't you?)
Incidentally, we did use the treatment stuff I bought, even after we clipped his hair - and I'll do it again a week from now, just to be safe.
Despite the drops of lavender oil I'd been rubbing into the hair at his nape and behind his ears, the dreaded lice was back after two years away. I understand a spray mixture of tea tree oil applied to hair daily can also help ward off the intrepid vermin, but there are really no guarantees when it comes to this problem. At least I know we can shave his head with more ease, should it happen in the future. In fact, he says he wants to keep it this way - at least, for now.
Honestly, if I don't have to do that hour-long hair-washing anymore, that would hardly be a terrible thing. And the other upside is the house hasn't been clean like this in AGES. What an excellent husband I have - thank you, Martin!
So, how was YOUR weekend?