It has been a hectic week.
All 3 of my children started school and for my 6-year-old that meant she started her 6th NEW school and I was a little bit nervous about it.
If God did in fact create shy bones, then Chloe is the only one in our family of five that has one, or maybe ten, in her body. Not only that but she is very cautious. She has had many “starts” in her short life where she has reported “yes, I did have fun today, but I think I won’t go back tomorrow.” She would rather stay home and skip day two rather than risk that the first day was a false start of fun.
I felt bad. Another new school? I had not done a very good job of explaining why we hadn’t seen her kindergarten friends since the last day of that school in May. It was a very small class, and the three other girl moms and I did not click… but I did try. Denise’s mom only spoke Spanish, Sarah’s mom kept her only child on a super busy schedule and could not seem to fit us in and the African twins’ turban-wearing, missionary mom was super sweet, but they moved away in July to take a year-long sabbatical.
I really hoped, or rather still hope, that at her new school both Chloe AND I will meet some first grade families with whom we can become friends. SO, I decided to have a back to school party to get that friendship ball rolling.
Monday, Chloe joined her brother, who started the third grade, at a wonderful elementary school that did not have room for her when we moved to Miami last January. My Back to School invitees included 7 of my son’s favorite 3rd grade friends and their families and 8 first grade families whom I had never met before. I did a little research in the school’s online directory and was so happy to find that 8 of the 60 incoming first graders were girls that lived in our zip code!
The party happened last Saturday night. I sent an evite two weeks prior and then on the Thursday before I phoned those that had not responded (note to self: evite etiquette good topic for future post). A day before the event I was counting on 5 families attendance, which was great. Yes, I would have been happy if a few more could have come, but 13 adults (my mom was in town) plus kids would make a nice size gathering.
The party was great: the food was yummy, the decor turned out just as I had pictured it would and all aged guests seemed to have fun.
That night my new Floridian family went to bed with a clean kitchen (my mom’s head never hits the pillow until the dishes are done, no matter what time the last guest leaves) and the satisfaction that it had been a succesful Saturday night.
At 3 a.m. I woke to the familiar sound of my 4-year old daughter’s voice asking…” Mommy, can I get in bed with you?” Always afraid that I might not be able to fall back asleep, I let one eye flutter half-way open. “Is everything, OK?” I barely got the question out before both eyes popped to full attention as my daughter scratched at her head like a dog with fleas. “Sure, I’m fine my head just itches a little bit.”
OH NO!! I KNEW WHAT THAT SCRATCHING MEANT. They were back. But how did those nasty varmints find us here in paradise? I thought we left those lousy lice back in Texas… this could not be happening.
I pulled my daughter close to me hoping if we both closed our eyes we might wake-up from this nightmare. We did in fact fall asleep but it didn’t work, the lice were still there and I had to suffer through 4 hours of dreams involving giant insects eating our new house with us inside.
At 7 am I jumped out of bed and shouted to my husband. The lice are back we’ve got to get to work! You see, the first and last time these annoying little creatures set-up camp on my children’s’ heads it took me SIX WEEKS TO GET RID OF THEM. I swore the next time they paid us a visit I would be super vigilant. I was sure I had just not worked hard enough to get rid of these uninvited guests, so I formulated an evacuation plan (not too dissimilar from the plan we just formulated to deal with Isaac. A guest from the sea who is also NOT invited to my home but might show up anyway).
By the time both of my feet hit the floor I was running, with AK at my heels, scratching her head as we went. “Honey, I’m headed to the store,” I yelled to my husband “you grab the sheets… anything soft or furry needs to be sealed up in a bag and if we can’t remove it, we’ll put a trash bag over it.”
Now Vince is not one of those husbands that responds to barking orders (you know there are those that do… and when we meet him my husband and I usually share a good eye roll or a sympathetic glance, depending on the degree of tongue lashing he is receiving from his wife). But at this moment, we were dealing with an enemy invasion and I needed a little kowtowing. I continued to let the orders fly and pretended that they were not falling on deaf ears as my husband rolled-over in bed and my son turned up the TV.
When I returned from CVS I was pleased to see Vince had bagged up most of the linens in the house and was working on the sofas. He remembers our recent Hundrerd Year War on the lice and was not going to fight a loosing battle again.
My mom was also out of bed and armed with trash bags. I had not bothered waking her because I wasn’t sure how she would react and didn’t have time to drive her to the airport if she decided she did not want to hang around my insect infested home. She has come along way from her first encounter with lice. I will never forget shivering naked in a bathtub with my mother looking down on me in horror as she tried to gauge how far back she could stand and still get a squirt of the lice shampoo on my head. She is a good shot, but the bathroom was small. She had to stand much closer to those animals than she would have liked (the look in her eyes told me she saw these lice as giant beasts).
I grabbed my $100 worth of lice fighting over-the-counter medicine and went straight to ground zero… my four-year olds’ head.
As I shampood and rinsed and nit-picked the kids’ hair (lice eggs are called “nits” YES, that is where the saying came from) a thought landed on my shoulders like a ton of bricks. We just exposed 8 children (some guests didn’t show-up) to LICE and I think I have to call their parents to give them fair warning.
I asked my mom for her thoughts…. “do I have to?”
“Well, I don’t think I would tell that Joanie, she WILL DIE! She seems very particular.”
“But are you sure? If they shampoo tomorrow they can prevent further lice procreation on their children’s’ heads.”
I texted a friend: “Do I have too?”
“Yes,” she said. I did. So with a red face that I just knew they could see through the phone, I explained. “It was so nice to meet you last night. I’m calling this morning because I’ve got some bad news… Sally might have
BUGS CRAWLING ALL OVER HER HEAD RIGHT NOW been exposed to lice.”
So much for new friends.
Honestly, we were lucky and everyone was nice and very calm, even Joanie.
I am happy to report after nit-picking, lice shampoo, a homemade concoction that included vaseline and 3 days of peanut butter scrubbing and then a trip to the salon to remove the vaseline, we have won the war. The lice are gone. The vaseline still lingers, but the lice have disappeared. And I haven’t had any reports from parents that their child contracted lice in our home.
But this wasn’t our only victory. Tuesday I asked my sweet shy child, “Did you talk to anyone at school today?” First, I got an adamant head shake “NO.”
“Really, no one?” I persisted.