MY TEXT: I can’t wait for tonight!
HIS TEXT: Me too.
And I couldn’t. I really, really couldn’t. It had been a long week. A good week, but an exhausting one. And in the middle of it was the first night of auditions for the Mother’s Day show, which were amazing. Lots of laughter and affirmation, and funny, funny stories. And even though the storytellers could leave after they auditioned, they didn’t. I had an open mic in my living room. It was awesome. I felt a little wistful as I nodded and laughed with the moms of small children. I was relieved to have passed through those years, but they really were rich with humor. And now? I’m not saying that my home flowed with the milk and honey of good parenting, but there simply weren’t as many bad moments as there used to be. I was changing. Growing.
Even still, my husband and I hadn’t been out together in a few weeks, so I was really excited. We were going out watch a show with some of our very favorite people. My house was still clean. ONE didn’t have homework. I didn’t have to cook dinner. The girls were excited about their babysitter. (I was excited about their babysitter.) All I had to do was get myself ready and feed the kids some nutrient-free pasta and I was done. I was having such a good mom day that I even threw in a bath for the girls.
I get really negligent about bath time in the winter. No outward dirt, no pressing need to wash them. Whatever. But I tossed them into the tub and even pulled out the Tea Tree Shampoo as advised by my wonderful friend Jane from TheyCallMeJane because I’d used that (and the Super Duper Lice Comb) on my girls every ten days since the Faux Lice Disaster of ’11. I still had one hour until I left. One hour to sit at the counter and have a glass of wine and gaze across my clean kitchen while waiting for my husband to pick me up. My mind was blissfully somewhere else. Somewhere trendy. Somewhere with dim lighting. And as I combed through ONE’s hair with the Super Duper Lice Comb, I found these. Lots and lots of these:
And the more I combed, the more came out. Her scalp was gracious and yielding, like fields of manna at first light. The Lice Happens technician who visited our house in November was right. We didn’t have lice last time. We had it this time. And unlike several months ago I didn’t jump around shrieking, or shiver with imaginary skeevies, because I was in control this time. I was going out. And also? My mind was busily vacillating between how I’d keep it from the babysitter, and why I had to be so cocky. They hadn’t needed a bath. Why’d I have to go and try to be super mom? That never, ever works out for me.
I stopped combing ONE’s hair because I knew it was just the beginning for her, and moved on to TWO’s head. TWO announced that she was fine, because only her sister and her sister’s friends got lice. ONE moaned and cried. I rolled my eyes. ONE caught me. She screamed that I didn’t understand her. That I hated her. And then stormed out of the room, slamming doors. Whatever. I ran through everything the technician told us as I brushed through TWO’s head and inspected her scalp. I wanted to sound convincing when I assured the babysitter that it was all taken care of and she could still come over. Lice die in 24 hours if they’re not on the scalp. They can’t live or breed anywhere else. They only pass head-to-head, through brushes and…I looked down. I was brushing TWO’s hair with the brush I’d just used on ONE.
I was hand-delivering the lice, unscathed, to their place of worship.
And I would spend the rest of my night wandering in the wilderness, unable to enter the promised land.
I changed out of my “Mommy You Look Beautiful” clothes, called the babysitter and cancelled. Poured myself a glass of red and brought it into the bathroom. I took a long sip and gazed at the shower. The idea that I’d grown was as full of it as the lice shampoo I’d paid too much money for. The amount of bad moments I’d been experiencing had nothing to do with my parenting. It was all about logistics. Since the moments could no longer slip out through tiny little cracks during the day, they gestated while the girls were at school, rising in strength and power until they exploded forth in a million little lice.
(PS: If anyone reading this happened to be at my house the other night, don’t worry. It wasn’t in our furniture or anything like that. You’re safe. Unless, of course, your child’s classroom happens to be located on the same hallway as ONE’s. I have no idea what’s going on down there, but it’s not good.)
©2012 CEK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.