Childhood Funk. That’s what mother’s should call it. Children are afflicted with the strangest maladies: Lice, Impetigo, ring worm, and scabies. Those are the things that make childhood traumatic, from a parent’s upstanding citizen point of view.
The last thing parent’s want to see is a note from the school that their child has lice, a strange ring on their arm or critters digging under their skin, such as scabies. It makes us look like we are dirty, living among rat feces and bathtub rings.
Scabies is caused by mites that burrow into the skin and lay their eggs, causing intense itching and a pimple-like rash. Scabies is contagious and spreads, making the condition common in childcare centers and schools It’s not related to socioeconomic class. That doesn’t matter. It makes all parents feel like pond scum. My college roommate had scabies when she was student teaching. It was on her stomach and it just grossed me out, thinking that there was something literally crawling under her skin, and if that wasn’t bad enough, had the audacity to leave eggs behind as a parting gift. And then they would hatch and so on and so on, and the next thing you know, she would be a scabie. I told her that too.
So, when I became a parent, I was like an OCD queen of cleanliness. My home was going to be a “Scabies Free Zone.” And there was no way my child was going to serve lice on a platter to the other children. I was sure that parent’s would do the same. But, oh, I was living in a germ-free bubble, and one day it got popped.
Alex was in kindergarten and had to take something in for Show and Tell. She decided to take her favorite stuffed animal, Fluffy the
dog. Fluffy was a good dog, and she knew that he would behave himself in school. By all means, Little One, take Fluffy to school with you.
I loved watching her get off the school bus and run to me. That day was no different. Well, maybe not for her. “Mommy, guess what? Stephanie has lice.” Now, you have to understand that this was the first “lice in the classroom” situation I had encountered. Adam was one year ahead, and there was never any jumping scalp partiers to mention of before. I was aghast. Like finding out Jeffrey Dahmer ate people for lunch aghast.
I followed her to the house and realized I had to stop her before entering my lovely foyer, before taking lice hitch-hikers into my family room, where we lie on the couch, not worried that scurrying little bugs were walking on us. No, this had to stop before I went mental.
I told Alex that we would go into the house through the garage so we can empty her backpack. I tried not to let Alex know that having lice could be a royal pain in the house. I told her I just had to make sure that lice didn’t follow her home. We dropped off her back pack in the garage for now, and had her kick off her shoes before we entered the mudroom. Once in the mudroom, I told her to stand still, and I ran up to her room to get a change of clothes for her. She was going in the shower. After I interrogated her scalp. I went over her head with a fine-toothed comb. Literally.
Well, after I scalped her, I put her in the shower. You know, to drown any lice that may be hiding in her eyelashes. I put her in a change of clothes and put her lice-infested clothes in a bag to wash. While she was eating her after school snack , I put the clothes in the washing machine on hot. Well, on the soak cycle, so again, the little buggers would drown. I felt pretty good that I prevented lice from visiting our fine abode. But, wait, Mom, not so fast.
“Mommy, what about Fluffy?” Alex looked up at me, with that sweet, innocent of bugs face. Oh, shit. Fluffy. The stuffed animal that she sleeps with. The dog that sat with her when she watched tv. Fluffy even ate cereal with her. I was screwed. Well, let me think? Would lice like fake fur? Well, hell yes, I thought, how would they know the difference? They were lice. I’m sure they were stupid.
There was only one thing I could do. Fluffy would have to be quarantined. I couldn’t wash the furry guy. He would have fallen apart in the washer. Trust me. And never ask me about Bongo. Poor monkey. Anyways, I didn’t have the internet to refer to, and I was pretty sure that the Medical dictionary didn’t have an entry about stuffed animals with lice. I had to figure out a solution, short of having a note left one night by her door that Fluffy was kidnapped. That was just a fleeting thought, mind you.
So, I did the only thing I could do. I put Fluffy in a huge Zip-lock bag. To suffocate the lice, of course. At the same time, he could still travel with Alex and sleep with her and do all the things a girl and her dog in a bag would do together. It was perfect. You know what they say, “It’s a dog’s lice.” I’m pretty sure that’s what it is.
Fluffy stayed in oxygen-deprived quarantine for 2 weeks. I didn’t have to deal with lice again until I started teaching full time several years ago. Karma. Lice all around me. My head starts itching.
I need quarantined most days. Just put me in a bag.