I swear, I have heard her speak through me sometimes when consoling friends. I'm sure they have heard it too. And last night I could hear her speaking to me as I suffered through the mother of all nightmares no parent should have to endure - head lice! Oh, I know. I was spontaneously itchy from the mere mention too.
I could hear her quote Nietzsche as I hung up the phone with the ECE teacher at Jack's daycare and realized I had a heck of a night ahead of me. "It won't kill you, Jo-Anne. It will only make you stronger."
My mind made a quick list of priorities as I left work:
- Pick up Alice and tell daycamp she might not be back this week.
- Pick up Jack and apologize profusely to staff.
- Silently curse the parent who's kid is responsible for this mess.
- Hit drugstore and get every product and appliance known to man that will rid children's heads of these disgusting little beasts.
- Throw in toy for kids, for pain and suffering. Add chocolate bar for me.
- Come home and begin daunting task of nitpicking.
As I suffered through the horrifying procedure, my mum's voice came to me again. This time she said, "You've got to laugh, Jo-Anne. ALWAYS remember to laugh!" Her other favourite piece of advice, and the one I have relied to get me through life the most. "Always remember to laugh." You can find humour in almost every trying situation. You really can, if you try. Unless it is going to kill you, don't stress. Stress kills. Laugh it off.
My kids are pretty funny, whether they mean to be or not. They are easy going, but on that odd occassion they can give me a good run for my money with a hearty meltdown. I had mentally prepared myself for the worst, especially with Alice who hates getting her hair brushed on a good day. Jack's reaction to the "de-lice" plan was surprisingly excited. "COOL!!! I'm going to be BALD!" I shaved his head with a #1 clipper, then began the shampoo treatment. He was patient, hillarious and allowed me to pick his head after it was washed like a mama monkey cleaning her baby. Good boy, Jack.
Alice resisted a little at first, worrying I was going to shave her head too I think. She was reluctant to agree to a haircut (I wasn't combing all of that "stuff" out of her shoulder length hair), but soon gave in when I explained how much combing was going to be involved over the next couple of hours. She is now sporting a cute little bob and has informed me I should be a "haircutter person". After the cut her only concern was for the loss of the poor little lice bugs and their unborn lice babies. I'm serious. Some kids have a passion for life, mine has compassion for lice. It's beautiful and disturbing, all at once.
"I know we have to get these little bugs out of my hair, and I really do want to stop itching, but, well... I feel sad that we have to kill them. I mean, it's sad that they will die because, well, they just need somewhere to live too and something to eat. I don't want it to be my head, but, well, it's just sad, you know? Poor bugs."
I teach the kids compassion, but for me, last night, that was going a little too far. Buh bye, buggies. And don't let the lice comb squish you on the way out!
It was disgusting and trying of my patience, oh yes, but it made a memory to last a lifetime. Yeah, not one I'd prefer to have, but one I'm sure every parent (sadly) will have at some point in their life. And some day that parent - me included - will dispense their best advice on a frantic mom or dad who is facing his/her first case of head lice, grossed out and mortified. When you do, don't forget to tell them this:
"That which does not kill you will make you stronger. Remember to laugh about it later!"
Always remember to laugh.