It seems ridiculous the amount of stress the threat of a few little bugs caused.

COLUMN: Lice — striking fear in parents everywhere

I am new to the land of lice with my first experience with the Wee Beasties happening at the tail end of last summer.

Operating on a hot tip, I grabbed my headlamp and a fine-toothed comb and hunched over a head of hair. Another head of hair and a half hour later, I breathed a big sigh of relief, panic subsiding. We were lice free.

Considering the fact that we are in the midst of cold and flu season with H1N1 and H1N-whatever floating around, capturing headlines and even lives, it seems ridiculous the amount of stress the threat of a few little bugs caused.

I am new to the land of lice with my first experience with the Wee Beasties (timely Robbie Burns reference, eh?) happening at the tail end of last summer.

My three kids returned home after some time with family, a few creatures stowed away in their hair and I learned the true meaning of the words annoying, nuisance, persistent, among a few others that my newspaper doesn’t print and my children don’t often hear.

Several rounds of costly shampoo and daily nit picking from two heads of hair (my son escaped the drama with his summer head shave) and we passed our initiation into a club whose members seem reluctant to admit their association.

Truly ironic considering the other day my friend said to me, “I think I may have that H1N1 virus.” I sat sharing the same air as my coughing compadre without so much as batting an eye.

Yet, had she said “I’ve got lice,” I would have plopped her pompom-ed toque on the top of her head and bid her adieu.

Why does lice have such a bad rap? In the midst of our lice outbreak my nightly reading consisted of Googled articles on lice. I learned they’re not dangerous and don’t spread disease. They’ve got short stumpy legs rendering even walking a challenge. They do not fly or jump. They’re not even considered a medical problem.

In some cultures, people just live with lice. Cleopatra is said to have had her own solid gold lice comb — how sophisticated! Sophisticated! What?!

I think we’ve become a society obsessed with a misguided standard of cleanliness where bugs mean dirtiness. Head lice aren’t creatures that infest the dirty. In fact, I believe my family had previously resisted the bug for so long because of our anti-shampooing policy. (It’s kind of a loose policy.)

And getting lice doesn’t mean you have to clean your house from top to bottom. During the six weeks we had lice, I often heard other misguided statements such as all teddy bears go in the freezer, vacuum all the furniture — daily and launder everything. None of these things were necessary to rid our heads of lice. The rice-sized creatures don’t like to leave the scalp. They really don’t. That’s where they eat and they gotta eat to live.

All these things considered, why does lice still take its toll on families — socially, emotionally and psychologically? Why does the thought of lice in our lives create more panic than illness that knocks a person out for days?

Sure, it’s part stigma — and education and awareness, simply standing up and admitting to having lice helps.

But I think we’ve also become a society that doesn’t have time for a nuisance — a creepy, crawly nuisance.

Surprisingly, taking time with my girls each day wasn’t a complete nuisance. With strands of hair in hand, we talked, listened to music and sometimes they read to me. Often we complained to each other but while dealing with lice was at times frustrating, we also bonded as a family tackling a new challenge together.

We even captured specimens to watch under magnifying glass, which demystified the beast. I had fun throwing around the terms louse and nitpicker.

In the end, nitpicking was the answer and I was pleased that for once, being a nitpicking mom was the solution to our dilemma.

So, coughs and Kleenex in hand I return to my recent alarm and remind myself that “meh, it’s just lice.” Let’s lose the stigma, gain some perspective and try to panic a little less. Sharing our matter-of-fact stories is just a start.

Disclaimer: While lice have been disambiguated for me, bed bugs are another matter. freak me out. That’s all…

Just Posted

Slocan Valley added to communities on flooding evac alert

Kootenay Lake is expected to reach flooding level in Nelson by Friday

Police searching for Nelson man

Brent Mickelson hasn’t been heard from since February

UPDATED: Hwy 3 west of Creston remains closed due to mudslide

A detour is available on the Kootenay Lake Ferry, but commuters could see wait times

Local police recognized for work

Eight officers were honoured for removing impaired drivers

Group wants Argenta Johnsons Landing face protected

Carolyn Schramm and Gary Diers are among residents opposed to logging plans

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

‘White-nose syndrome’ has killed millions of bats in North America, but hasn’t arrived in B.C. yet

Are B.C.’s gas prices enough to keep you from travelling May long weekend?

Gas prices in B.C. ranging from 125 cents per litre to more than 150 cents

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle wed in Windsor as millions watch

Windsor sparkled on a warm spring day as tens of thousands of people jammed its quaint roads

Most Read