Jennifer Fisher Wilson has been battling lice.
I knew that lice still existed, of course, but I had always assumed that they belonged in someone else’s house. So despite receiving a letter from school alerting parents of an infestation, it took three days of watching my son furiously scratching his neck before I realized that he might not have mosquito bites.
The moment I checked, there they were: little wingless, bloodsucking insects skittering over his thick-haired scalp. I wondered how long had they been hiding there, and how I could not have noticed. They were there on his little brother, too, who had also fostered them unnoticed despite having thin, fine, blond hair. Then a quick check in the mirror at my own hair confirmed the inevitable: A single louse perched assertively on my hairline, looking like it had popped out to say, “See, I’ve been here all along.”
Eradicating head lice takes a lot of work. In addition to hair treatments with pesticide shampoo, a visit to the barbershop, and painstaking combing for nits daily for two weeks, everything in the house that can be washed must be washed (that’s piles and piles of laundry), everything that cannot be washed must be put in a hot dryer or bagged and quarantined, and all furniture must be thoroughly vacuumed. As a precautionary measure, I washed the bed sheets everyday for a week. I could not let the bugs come back.
Even when they're gone, they're not forgotten.
Even now, more than a month later, my scalp feels itchy as I write this, and I have checked twice in the mirror to reassure myself that the bugs are really gone.