Trust Me, I Am an Expert (But I Wish I Wasn’t)

There are a lot of things I know a lot about, and even more things I know a little about and pretend to know a lot about. But in the past year, there is one thing that I, sadly, would consider myself an expert on. It is not a thing I openly talk about – especially with new people – but since you people are my people, here goes. 

It's head lice. Yep. HEAD LICE. I know all about how to treat head lice. (I am killing it with hair emergencies.)

Because one lovely morning when I was cuddling A on the couch, I discovered a bug in her hair. And then more than one. And then…well, let's just say it turned out I also had it and it was gross. (Is your head itching yet?!)

So after my initial tearful "butimthirtysomethingandiveneverhadliceuntilnow" fit – which my mom promptly ended by saying "of course you've had lice, you just don't remember" – I set about solving the problem. So here's the deal, in case the lice fairy ever visits your house: 

Step 1: Quarantine and Treatment – Kid with lice is separated from kid without lice, temporarily, to apply lice treatment. Because I was scared out of my mind, I immediately treated both A and I with Rid or something equally toxic, but if I had it to do over, here is what I would recommend for treatment:

  • how to treat head liceOlive Oil: The theory is that it suffocates the lice. I think mayonaise is supposed to accomplish the same goal. Ditto baby oil or Vaseline. But if you heat the olive oil up before application, it's like a ghetto hot oil treatment.
  • Lice Free Spray: There are a couple of natural lice sprays on the market that are relatively non-toxic. My favorite part about this product is that you can use it as many times as you want, unlike Rid, which is so toxic that you can only use it once every 7-10 days. I have since used it as a preventative method before t-ball and when there was a lice scare at the kids school a month or so ago.
  • Styling Tools: I used the blow drier and flat iron on both A and I repeatedly. I got this tip from my friend Deanna, who also saved the day during the red hair debacle. She is like my hair savior, I swear. Apparently the heat kills the nits. (Ew, it's even a gross word.)
  • Coconut Oil & Shampoo: I immediately purchased the Organix brand of coconut milk shampoo, conditioner and coconut oil to wash A's hair. I continue to wash her hair with it. Apparently lice do not like essential oils like coconut, mint, or tea tree. 

Step 2: Cleaning – While A and I were having our "hot oil treatments", I was frantically stripping beds, vacuuming furniture and putting everything else into trash bags for the recommended two week incubation period. Everything that could be dried went into the dryer for a minimum of 30 minutes: pillows, stuffed animals, hats, clothes, bedding…you get the idea. My washer/dryer has never worked so hard. Also – don't forget about carseats and strollers. Vaccum them. Repeatedly.

Step 3: Combing – This is the nastiest and most tedious step. It is the step that I would imagine most people either do inadequately or skip over entirely, which is why lice are often recurring. It almost makes you wish the lice would just eat your brain, because that would likely be easier. It involves sectioning off the hair and going through it, literally, with a fine tooth comb. And the stuff that comes off the comb…well…yuck. But it has to be done. More than once. I recommend a show that you never let your kid watch normally and an unhealthy amount of fruit snacks while they sit, captive, in a chair. Note: if you are unlucky enough to also have lice, do not ask your husband to do this for you. Call your mother or your best friend. Promise that you will leave wine, rubber gloves and a shower cap on the doorstep if they come. Trust me on this. 

Step 4: Full Disclosure – I was not thrilled that we had lice, but I would not wish lice on my worst enemy. Well…okay, maybe my worst enemy. But that's it. So I had to get on the phone and notify school, the gym, music class, story time (you get the picture) that we had lice. Which is awesome, in case you were wondering. 

Step 5: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat – I think this is the most important step. You have to continue everything ad nauseum. Particularly the vacuuming and the cleaning. Of everything their heads touch in the course of a day. And the combing. Ad nauseum. I think it was an entire month before I stopped vacuuming daily, drying our pillows and A's buddies each morning after sleeping on them, and picking through her hair like a monkey does to its offspring. I still haven't gotten over my head itching or stopped examining each flake of dandruff carefully to make sure that is what it is.

Step 6: Recovery and Prevention – A is no longer allowed to go to school or activities with her hair down. I continue to wash her hair with the coconut shampoo and spray both kids with Lice Free in high-risk lice situations. (No, I am not joking. Have you not seen a public indoor play space?) Am I crazy? Possibly. But I want to do everything I can to avoid becoming any more of an expert on this particular topic.


How NOT to Mow the Lawn

For the first seven years of our marriage, mowing the lawn was strictly Ry's thing. Sort of an "anything inside the house is my responsibility, anything outside the house is yours" arrangement. Then one day, I noticed that the lawn was really long because Ry was out of town. And I realized that he would come home and need to mow it. So I did what any good wife would do – I mowed it.

Now, before you think I'm getting all up on my high horse and bragging about what an awesome wife I am, let me explain. I mowed the lawn so my husband would not have to mow it when he got home. But also so that when he got home I could throw the kids in his general direction and say, "oh they missed you so much they just want to play with you. Exclusively you. For at least an hour. While I lock myself in my room with a book and a glass of wine."

Ry was so relieved not to have to mow the lawn, I don't even know if he questioned why I did it. So the next time the lawn needed to be mowed, I just did it. Because here's the other thing I learned – if you volunteer to mow the lawn, you get at least an hour a) outside, b) listening to whatever you want, c) without responsibility of watching children and d) with a cool adult beverage either during or immediately upon completion. I wish the lawn would grow faster.

Except for this one thing. It turns out I know nothing about maintaining the lawn mower. So, I present to you, my tips for what NOT to do when mowing the lawn: 

  1. If you can't figure out why the mower won't restart, do not keep pulling the cord "one more time." You will get a bruise on your hand.
  2. If you decide that it needs oil, don't just keep adding more oil to the oil tank. I think you're supposed to measure it or something. 
  3. Also, if you decide that it needs oil, make sure the mixture you are adding to the oil tank is, in fact, oil. 
  4. If you call your husband from outside the house for help because the mower is smoking and he doesn't answer because he is nappng, don't continue to try to fix it on your own.
  5. If Google tells you to siphon the mystery liquid out of the oil tank, do not try to fashion an implement for this purpose yourself out of a bulb syringe and a drinking straw held together with electrical tape. 
  6. When you go to the hardware store to get materials to fix your mower, do not pretend you know what you are doing. It will save time for both you and the hardware store guy, because he will immediately direct you to a small engine repair shop instead of trying to tell you how to fix it yourself. 
  7. Do not try to fit your lawn mower in the back of your SUV while your children are still in their car seats to bring it to aforementioned repair shop. There is not enough room in a Kia Sorento for children and a lawn mower. Shocking, I know.
  8. Do not ignore the "flash flood warning" alert that the National Weather Service sends to your phone as you are leaving the house. They mean it. No one at the small engine repair shop needs to know what color bra you have on under your tank top, but they will after it pours buckets on your head as you unload the mower and walk it inside. The good news is that the initial $50 quote will somehow end up just being $17 for some reason.

So now, I find myself at a crossroads. Am I the kind of wife who will persevere through this little setback, or will this forever be known as the summer I flirted with being the kind of wife who mows the lawn? Maybe I'm crazy, or maybe the fumes from all that attempted siphoning have gone to my head, but as soon as this rain passes, I think I'm going to finish mowing the lawn. Hopefully Ry will get me a beer. 

Update: One more thing – do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget to take the lawn mower out of the car after it visits the repair shop unless you want your car to smell like eau de gasoline. Will this lesson NEVER END?!