Monday, January 31, 2011

The No Fun, Very Bad Week

Two weeks ago, 2 kids in Le Petite's class were reported as having lice in Room 2. Within a week, 4 new cases were announced, and the lice had spread to my son's classroom, Room 3. For any parent with a kid in a classroom, the LICE threat is terrifying. Add to that a parent with OCD (me), and well... yeah. Lets just say that its ugly.

My OCD is not usually set off by cleaning concerns, and is generally well-controlled by medication. But apparently lice are a trigger for me. I had a traumatic incident happen to me while I was in junior high - I didn't catch lice, but the event involved lice and my (in my mind) extreme public humiliation. I hadn't thought about it in years, but the second that I found a louse in my son's hair Wednesday night, I lost it.

Have I mentioned that I have OCD?!?!

For the two weeks since they announced the lice outbreak at his school, I've been obsessively checking Petite's hair every day after school. Wednesday, I found one. So, the second his dad walked in the door, out came the clippers and off went Petite's hair. We found 2 lice, and no nits. No lice or nits in my hair or Mister Curie's. However, just to be on the safe side, I chopped off my own hair, too. I restrained myself from shaving it, mostly because I am not 100% sure Mister Curie wouldn't leave me if I did shave it. But lets just say that my hair is shorter than "pixie".

I was then awake until after 4 am washing and drying everything in the house - rugs, upholstery, clothings, hats, gloves, coats. All of the laundry that was so newly washed that it was still in laundry baskets was rewashed and dried on hot. I shrunk at least 1 sweater (from Banana Republic, sadly). All of the knitting and toys are in plastic bags. I vacuumed the bed, couches, rugs, walls.

Thursday, while Le Petite was in school, I repeated the above. When he came home, his coat, hat, gloves, clothes, and blanket were thrown into the washer and dryer. And his (bald) head was checked for lice.

The above, except for the haircuts, has been repeated, daily, through today.

I'm waiting for my Neem shampoo to come in the mail, at which point Le Petite's bald scalp and my head will be bathed nightly in organic, safe, Neem oil - which, apparently, lice don't like. Not that they can live on a bald scalp, either, but I'm not taking any chances. Even if we do smell like pesticides.

I'm just wondering at what point I can assume that the lice are all gone from the house, and are never coming back? Or will I be running our washer and dryer every night for the next 18 years?

Where does normal anxiety about lice stop and OCD kick in? At what point in this process did I go "overboard"?


Donna Banta said...

Oh dear, I'm sorry about the very bad week. I have obsessive tendencies myself, that have calmed since I left Mormonism. But I can definitely relate. Don't be hard on yourself!

Aerin said...

There was a great article on npr some months/years ago about lice, and how it had nothing to do with how "clean" a person/family was/is. There is an emotional component. I think this is something a parent has no control over.

Madame Curie said...

I managed to chill out after 7 nights of washing. But then today the teachers again had a note on the whiteboard that everyone was to take home their blankets to wash again, since they still have some odd lice cases here and there. It didn't help that a well-educated, very good friend on mine stated that it was "just a hygiene issue - don't the bugs just come out in shampoo?" which started the cycle again for me. Luckily, his head is still bald... so I can see if any critters appear in there pretty easily.