I am an insectophobe. One of my greatest fears is lice in my kids’ hair. Particularly in my daughter’s long, curly hair. My fear is based on experience. You see, bugs love Abby. She’s had lice twice, a spider egg hatch in her bedroom, fleas in her bed from a stray cat that she snuck into our home, a tick embedded in her scalp, and what seemed like hundreds of swollen, bruised mosquito bites all over her body.
More about my Mexican Standoff in my Spider Garden, Bionic Spiders and Bug Trauma in Confessions of an Insectophobe.
Never a big fan of bugs to start with, these experiences rattled me in a way that’s hard to explain without making me sound totally nutso. The mere thought of nasty little lice critters in her hair (and all over my house) sends me into a spiraling panic. Which I hope helps to explain my reaction to this latest chapter in Abby’s dance with danger… errr… bugs… errr… MAYBE imaginary bugs.
Abby’s school has special theme days. Wacky Wednesday is my daughter’s favorite. She enthusiastically participates each time by coming downstairs in an absurd, mismatched outfit. I love the confidence and humor she exudes on these special days and I laugh right along with her.
Most recently, Abby’s Wacky Wednesday outfit included a wig. When she got home from school, she told me that it her wig was a big hit. Her classmates were so delighted by her crazy hair, that they all passed it around and wore it. When Abby told me that, I instantly went on alert.
“What do you mean they all wore it?” Rapid heartbeat.
“Did you put it back on your head after they had it on their head?” Shortness of breath.
“Are you itchy?” Sweat forming on my brow. (Clanging noise, tunnel vision.)
“DO YOU HAVE BUGS IN YOUR HAIR??!” (SILENT SCREAM) Nutso voices in my head: “DON’T PANIC. KeepItTogether KeepItTogether KeepItTogether KeepItTogether.” (Bowfinger reference – one of the most hilarious movies of all time!). Click to watch this entire clip, which perfectly captures the escalating terror I feel when I am faced with a bug foe. Just imagine that the dog is a bug with high heels on. Ha!!! KeepItTogether.
Later that night, Abby took a shower and sat on my bed as she combed her hair. I watched as she threw the extra hairs in my bed. After she went to sleep, I sat in my bed and looked suspiciously at the possible lice that just tunneled into my blankets. I obsessed about it for 30 minutes and finally went down to sleep on the couch.
On Thursday evening, I was minding my own business not thinking about lice and Abby sat next to me on the couch. I noticed her scratching her scalp once. Twice. I then reluctantly did a head check. I only got half way through and I spotted a little dot of blood on her scalp. And little flecks of skin (or maybe a colony of lice eggs). I lost it. Let’s just say that it wasn’t my finest hour. Ted had to do the rest of the head check, but he didn’t find anything. Not that he really looked. He didn’t even see the spot of blood and the possible colony of lice eggs!
I kept feeling like things were crawling in my hair. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep in my bed again. So at 10 pm, I removed all of my bedding and started to put all of it in the dryer on high for 40 mins.
The wig went in the garbage. Ted thinks I’m nuts. Fingers crossed that he’s right and no lice are in my daughter’s hair (or all over my house.)
Update on Friday: Abby asked me if I have successfully recovered from my panic attack. I told her yes, but only if she doesn’t have lice. She said she isn’t itching yet. How long does it take for lice to tunnel into her hair and make her feel like her scalp is on fire? Is there an incubation period? Ugh, just thinking about this makes my head itch.
Update on Saturday: Still waiting and watching. I can’t bring myself to look at her hair.
Update 4 weeks later: Soooo… No bugs have infested my daughter’s hair or my home, although I can’t confirm it or else I’ll have another panic attack. I am pretty happy about that. I know, I wasted all of that energy on nothing. The one good thing that came out of this experience is I believe she will never, ever let someone wear her wig (or a hat) again.