"Lanie* has lice."
Lanie is one of TP's closest friends. My head began to crawl at the thought. I was itching before we even got out of the school parking lot, as images of Lanie and TP hugging, head-to-head over school work, and stretched out on the floor together during reading time flooded my mind. TP told me that another girl was braiding Lanie's hair during recess and saw something crawling. Those girls went to the bathroom to 'get the bug out of Lanie's hair' and, at some point, realized that it was a bigger issue than just a single mystery 'bug'.
We drove a few blocks from school and pulled into a Walgreen's parking lot in which I checked TP's hair for any sign of infestation. I figured if we saw something I would be right at the pharmacy to buy supplies. There wasn't any sign of lice, but I spent a good part of the evening fine combing TP's hair, knowing that if she had been in recent contact, one or two little buggers would be hard to spot. That is one of the more crappy parts of getting/having lice, it generally takes a full blown infestation before it is detected.
Bless Lanie's heart, as she now carries the stigma of being That Kid. The one that every parent will ask about when they are handed the Lice Letter from the school nurse. I fully recognize and understand that lice is just as innocuous as the common cold. (Bad) luck of the draw. It isn't dirty kids or poor kids or the greasy haired that get lice, it can be anyone. And yet, there will be whispers and furtive glances at the poor child. I encouraged TP to stay in contact with Lanie and be supportive. We were treated to funny Snapchat photos of the de-lousing process at Lanie's house. Her poor mother...Lanie has thick, long hair.
The psychosomatic effect of someone else's lice infestation intrigues me. My head itches as I sit here typing. Talking to my husband on the phone about it made his head itch. Every little twitch, itch, or crawling sensation sends me running for a mirror. If you haven't scratched your head yet, I bet you will soon.
I am sure that part of my day will be spent Googling the life cycle of lice, so that I can plan accordingly and try to determine when we can breathe easy again. Until then, I will be vigilant with the head checks, combing, repeating lice prevention advice....and scratching myself bloody every few minutes.
*Name changed to protect the parasite host