First: Get an email from another parent informing you that two kids your child had a playdate with today have been found to have lice and she strongly suggests you check your kid. Or school sends home a letter that a kid in your child's class has lice.
Do not panic. Do not panic. Do not.... LIKE I NEEDED ONE MORE THING TO DEAL WITH!!! I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!! WHY ARE KIDS STILL EVEN GETTING LICE?!!! CAN'T, LIKE, THE iPHONE PEOPLE FIGURE THIS OUT?!!!
Suddenly, your head will start to itch preemptively. Remain calm. Remain OH MAH GAWD WHAT IF I HAVE LICE TOO? WHAT IF EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY GETS IT?!!!
Ask your child if she's been using that anti-lice hair detangler spray. No, she hasn't, because it got left in the hotel room on your last vacation. In fact, as you walked out of the room you said to your husband, "Honey, let me take one last look" he said, "Nah, let's just go." So really, this is all his fault.
OMG, your head is itching.
Now ask your child just how much contact she had with the other kids. She didn't, she says, she just hugged them. OH MAH GAWD.
Time to crowdsource lice! You ask the Facebook and Twitter peoples what to do if a child has been exposed to lice. The comments flood in. Some of the more helpful ones:
• Drink wine
• Breathe deeply
• Eat ice-cream, watch bad TV and hope for the best
• Take no group selfies
• Deliver flaming poo to the parent's doorstep
• Get a hotel room (just you)
Some other recommendations:
• Check, check, check, and check again with a flashlight and pick out anything suspicious.
• There really is not yet anything to DO yet, says a former school nurse; keep a watch on itching and look at the hair behind the ears and on the back of their head for white specks that look like small rice that are attached to the hair shaft and not easily pulled off. That means your child has lice but there is an incubation period involved so keep watch.
• Rub a good amount of coconut oil through hair and scalp, leave on for 15 minutes, comb out. It suffocates the little effers.
• Don't wash the hair, since lice like clean hair.
• Use a tea-tree oil shampoo.
• Use Ladibugs pesticide-free head lice treatment. Or check out products at the Lice Treatment Center. Or get the NISSKA Lice and Nit Removal Comb.
• Call Lice Happens, a Northeast service run by an RN who makes housecalls. There is a 24-hour Liceline!
• Use Listerine, which kills lice. (As in, put it on her hair, not swish it in her mouth.)
• Douse hair in mayo, to stifle the effers.
• Use Cetaphil, which works like mayo.
• Coat her hair in olive oil and add penne and garlic. Oh, wait, just add the olive oil and wrap with plastic overnight and comb.
• Treat with a natural lice shampoo, just in case.
• Douse her head in conditioner and start combing with a fine-tooth comb strand by strand, staying as close to the root as possible. Do this for a couple of days. If you are not seeing anything coming off their head, you are probably safe.
• Going forward, put tea-tree oil in shampoo and conditioner to prevent this. Or use hairspray, since lice hate hairspray, although boys hate hairspray even more.
Take a peek at your daughter's hair, tell her everything is fine, JUST FINE, ask her to go sit naked on the porch (well, you'd like to), grab the car keys and dash to Whole Foods. Get a big jar of coconut oil because it's the best-smelling treatment. Pause at the cookie section, feel guilty for thinking about cookies at a time like this, then buy some good-looking chocolate ones anyway.
On the drive home, flash back to when you had lice as a kid and your mom cut your hair so short that for months afterward, when you went into the ladies' room at restaurants or the library, people would stop you and say, "That's the ladies' room, son." Wonder how the trauma shaped you as a person.
At home, get mildly perturbed when your daughter asks you to replace some batteries in her alarm clock, because doesn't she understand that you are at WAR? Have her stand in front of the bathroom mirror as you smooth globs of coconut oil into her hair. After several minutes, start to feel a little nauseous from the smell of coconut. Perhaps your Mounds bar addiction is cured, at last! Um, why are you still thinking about food at a time like this?
Ponder how smart your child is is when she asks questions you have to Google like: Can a dog get lice? (Not from humans—they get their own kind.) Can your lashes get lice? (Um, yeah, EWWWWWWW GROSS ICK BLECH.)
Leave coconut oil in her hair for 20 minutes as you sit in another room to avoid the coconut smell. Itch your head some more.
After 20 minutes check her hair with flashlight as you make up bad jokes about lice:
What did one lice say to the other?
What is a louse's favorite drink?
What are a louse's favorite boots?
How many lice does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
100. One to screw in the lightbulb and 99 to make your mom go insane BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH.
OK, keep that last joke to yourself.
Grab one of those little combs you swiped from the fancy gym (hoarding really does come in handy) and comb the coconut oil through. Make daughter shampoo twice as you peer into the bathroom mirror and wonder about the new wrinkles that have formed since the start of this saga.
At bedtime: Share the chocolate cookies only if you'd like to.
After she falls asleep, and you feel compelled to do something else, grab the kit of essential oils you once got as a gift but never used and see if there's tea tree oil (melaleuca). Tip-toe into her room and dab some onto her hair as she sleeps. You're the Lice Fairy!
Go back and read more Facebook comments. Once again, you are posed with the quandry of whether or not to "like" bummer comments such as "Last year my friends' triplets got it!" and "Both of my girls and myself had them this summer, at separate times...five weeks worth of tears and treatments" because what if someone thinks you are LIKING the fact that they had to deal with lice?
Get some good perspective: "I loved what my pediatrician said many years ago. 'If your child never gets head lice or pinworms you should be worried. When I asked why he replied, 'Because they wouldn't have any friends!"
EWWWWWWW GROSS ICK BLECH pinworms. Worse than lice.
Belatedly hear from an ex boss who's now at Consumer Reports. "Step one: Do not buy any of those shampoos and treatments," she tells me. The anti-lice article she worked on on has excellent advice, including how key combing is, though it does not recommending swiping the comb from a fancy gym.
Fall asleep itching your head and batting your eyelashes to keep the lice out.
Later in week: Finish up package of chocolate cookies and feel extremely relieved that child escaped lice. Because, you really didn't have time to deal.