Just when I thought the bags under my eyes couldn’t get any darker.
There I was, sitting in the church pew Sunday, combing my fingers through my daughter’s hair, listening to Pastor. While doing so, I thought about how Ava had been itchy lately, which I attributed to heat rash — we do, after all, live in Savannah, Ga. Still, I thought, “Why not take a closer look?” because you just never know….
We hadn’t been sitting in the pew 10 minutes when I turned to Bill and said, “We’ve gotta go. Now.”
It was 10:30 in the morning when we got home and got to work, ridding my daughter’s scalp and hair of quite possibly the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to deal with: lice and their eggs. I’m creeping out just writing about it.
While the first treatment of non-toxic chemicals sat in Ava’s hair, I proceeded to check the rest of the family. Liam: safe. Dad: safe. Sarai: infested.
And then it was time for Bill to check me.
Being infested with lice is one of those things you think will never happen to you. Kind of like coming down with a case of leprosy. Not worried, I sat there eating my lunch, chatting with my mom about the horrors I’m currently experiencing, while Bill ran his fingers through my hair. All of a sudden, Bill made this flailing, squeamish, writhing movement with his body and arms, which turned out to be him flinging a louse from my scalp halfway across my kitchen, while at the same time running to the sink to sanitize his hands.
Prior to this moment I was OK. Because of the nasty a situation I was in, I had morphed into “Super Mom.” You know, that moment when your normal mom duties become unimportant and mundane, and you become that person who could lift a car off a body all by yourself because the situation calls for it. It’s the moment when picking vermin off your children is no big deal, like mopping up child vomit.
At the realization that I too had crawling insects – of which I’ve now had a good look at – all over my scalp for only God knows how long, I began to writhe. In a millisecond I was in the tub, feverishly scrubbing my head with non-toxic chemicals, all the while wondering if a louse would get stuck underneath my fingernails. The “ick” factor had just gone through the roof. This was way worse than mopping up vomit.
It was 10:30 that night before my girls and I had finished the last of three scrub-downs and comb-throughs (all three of us have thick hair, and two of us have hair down to the middle of our back). My entire house was sitting in the laundry room, waiting to be washed or sanitized. My back and neck ached from leaning over the girls all day long, picking parasites from their heads, and my eyes were strained from searching for minute creatures and their eggs – dead or alive – from the plethora of follicles of two otherwise beautiful little girls.
Bill did his best to comb through my hair, but it’s the next day and I still feel itchy: could be paranoia? To heck with non-toxic, the next round will consist of chemicals strong enough to wilt my strands and burn my skin if need be. Side effects by damned.
Day four. Hazmat cleanup. Although the live lice are gone, I’m still picking their eggs from the follicles of our hair. And, although I can see the floor in my laundry room now, I’m still washing towels everyday – we’re on a “one use only” policy for the moment.
So now, not only do I look like a zombie with rigor mortis setting in from the multiple late nights of lice combing and laundry, and oh yeah, I’m moving to Korea in about 80 days, but now I’m also wearing my hair in a bun in an effort to maintain some sort of clean social decency for my colleagues (they remain in ignorant bliss of my added woes). I’m the embodiment of a beauty queen, let me tell you.
So, here’s the thing. I thought I wasn’t supposed to get lice. I mean, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen to me. I am a clean person. I bathe regularly. I have a strong immune system. For the most part, I eat healthy. I’ve never broken a bone – actually, I think I did break my thumb once when I was a kid, but I can’t recall for sure – caught a horrible disease or been plagued by some other misfortune that afflicts the human race. All in all, my life has been relatively normal. In fact, I can say with confidence that I have led a very blessed life, despite my shortfalls with God; and when life is as good as mine is, it becomes easy to take those blessings for granted.
But as I sit here and contemplate the fact that I am currently a host to parasites (that I can actually see), I realize just how human I am: just how susceptible and vulnerable I (and my children) are to the human plight that is aging, disease, illness, contracting parasites, physical trauma and death.
I’m not as superhuman as my subconscious thought it was — if you’ve just heard a whooshing noise it was the sound of my ego deflating.
Sure, I figured my “healthy as a horse” life would exempt me from contracting yucky things like lice, but I also think that because of what I consider to be a blessed life, I also subconsciously assumed God loved me enough to keep my scalp clean.
Pretentious, I know, and outwardly I know better. That’s the whole point of this blog. Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart; we are all equal in our sin, and therefore all in the same earthly boat.
But don’t we all fight that little voice in our head (the Devil) that says, “I’m better than so and so?” Depending on who you are, that voice may speak to you with regard to wealth, or status, or spirituality, or yes, even cleanliness. It’s easy to forget just how sinful we all are and therefore not deserving of anything, not even existence, let alone parasite-free locks. Falling from my life of ease and a lice-free home, landing in the pits of vermin eradication from my very own scalp, seemed to me a long way to fall. It was a jolt really, back to reality.
I am not above anyone else. I am just as susceptible to the woes of human sin – I’m confident there are no lice in Heaven – as any other person on this planet. It’s time I turn my squealing into calm words of encouragement. This too shall pass. There is a purpose for everything, even if we do not know what that purpose is. As Proverbs 11:25 reminds us, encouraging others, even in the throes of our own suffering or misfortune, will in turn encourage us. I, for one, feel better already. But maybe that’s because I nuked my hair.
Encouragers see potential where others see only problems. David Jeremiah