Cartoon drawing of an uhnappy young girl with lice. Lice - an itchy, scratchy nit-picking nightmare.

You're Not Going To Like Me Very Much After What I Say Next

Cartoon of the young girl with lice and article title - An Itchy, Scratchy Nit-Picking Nightmare.

Lice. Easily one of the worst words a person can hear, it immediately signals our brains to embark on a nonstop assault of our unsuspecting scalps. As a parent, there isn't a more dreaded call home from the school nurse. Tell me to pick up my pinkeyed child. Call me because little Johnny has strep. But lice? Please, anything but!

What comes next is a full-blown run-through of emotions ridiculously similar to the Five Stages of Grief. Sure, no one is actually dying, but the loss of tears, energy, a few pillow cases and possibly some hair makes it close enough in my book.

DENIAL

It's not lice; it's dandruff. Dry skin, that's all. No way does your kid have those pesky little bugs – with their potentially hundreds of little eggs– no, definitely not.

Yes, the initial stage of grief is all too familiar until you actually see the golden brown, teardrop-shaped eggs sticking near the root of the hair. There's really no turning back at that point – the evidence is clear – lice has invaded your home and there's nothing left to do but burn it down and move. Sounds reasonable, right?

ANGER

Or better yet, rage clean. I'm talking stripping every bed in the house, bagging the stuffed animals, vacuuming the floors, endless loads of laundry and starting the painstaking task of literal nit-picking from your child's head, not unlike a mother gorilla to her young. It's a process that will continue over the next few days, weeks and, if you're neurotic enough, months – until you're completely satisfied that the enemy has officially left the building.

BARGAINING

Five days into "lice gate" – and just as you're about to claim victory – you'll find a brand-new louse to ruin your day. After contemplating a head shaving session for the entire family, you decide against the long-term consequences, despite the shortterm reward. Instead, back into the washer go the linens, pillows, hats and clothes, and, with your emotional well-being on thin ice, you finally turn to the gods and plead for mercy from the insect intruders.

DEPRESSION

One child is enough, but the moment lice spreads in your home to another kid or, God forbid, you, all bets are off – go ahead and drown your sorrows in a pint of ice cream. With no easy button in sight, it's time to wave the little white flag as the incessant sound of scratching fills your home.

ACCEPTANCE

I pity the remaining louse or two on the day acceptance finally comes into play. No more feeling sorry for yourself or empty expectations that the parasitic playground atop your child's head will go away on its own. By this point you've done your research, polled your nonjudgmental friends – let's be honest, you didn't tell everyone – and stocked the house: tea tree oil, vinegar, full-fat mayonnaise and enough over-the-counter Rid or Nix to remove lice from a large horse. Fun fact: Animals can't get lice.

We've all been there folks, and, odds are, if you have a child in school you can expect it at some point, too. From one parent to another, I intimately understand the feelings of disgust as you navigate a comb through the tangles of glued-on eggs. Together we stand in solidarity: the parents who've battled lice and won. Just don't expect me to be standing too close any time soon. I'm sure you understand.

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