A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Lice to meet you!

They say God never gives us more than we can handle.

And I truly believe that.

Which is why I am not the least bit surprised that I had 13.5 years of motherhood under my belt before head lice was dropped into my lap.


That’s right y’all, one of my chil’ren recently had the cooties. And I made this incredible discovery while he or she was snuggled up to me with his or her head on my lap.

(NOTE: I do know the gender of my child. I’m just trying to protect his or her privacy.)

Are you itching yet?


It honestly wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Frankly, I’m feeling like Mother of the Year over here because I battled these beasties and I PREVAILED.

But I suppose I should start at the beginning…

Discovering Head Lice

A few weeks ago, one of my kids was scratching his or her head like he or she had just worn a poison ivy bonnet in the Easter Parade.

“Quit scratching! People will think you have mange,” I chided.

“I can’t help it mom! It’s SO. ITCHY!”

“Oh Cheesus Crust. Did you stick your head in a fire ant hill again?”

“Really Mom! It hurts. Will you look at it?”

“OMG. (rolling eyes) Please don’t have lice. We already don’t get invited anywhere.

I looked, but didn’t see anything suspicious. So just to be on the safe side, I advised my child to covertly swing by the school nurse’s office the next day and ask for a lice check.

“The nurse said it’s just dandruff,” was the report I got the next day.

PHEW. I felt totally relieved and proud of myself for seeking a professional opinion.

“OH THANK GOD!” I said. “Because head lice? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.”

Aint nobody got time for headlice at The Bearded Iris

But lo and behold, even after a deep moisturizing treatment, the next day was more of the same: itchy itch, scratchy scratch.

My baby was still in total agony, “Mom—my hair actually hurts. It feels like I have bruises on my head. Are you sure it’s not lice?”

photo courtesy of the CDC/Dr. Dennis D. Juranek

photo courtesy of the CDC

We were sitting on a park bench in the bright sunshine at the time, with my baby’s sore head resting on my Levi’s. There, in the sun, with my hand gently stroking my child’s shiny locks, I started to notice numerous teeny-weeny cream-colored oblong specks on individual hair shafts. They were about the size of strawberry seeds. I’m talking TINY. And stuck. Stuck like glue.

Huh,” I thought. “That can’t be dandruff. Dandruff would flake off.”

(And I was right! Here’s a great “dandruff vs. nits” article and photo gallery if you need help.)

So I asked, “Have you been playing in a sandbox at school? There are tiny little grains of sand or dirt or something stuck to some of your hair.”

“No. There isn’t any sand at school.”

“Weird,” I said aloud, and then to myself: OMG! Is this what lice eggs look like?

The second we got home from the park, I started to Google things like “What does lice look like?” and “pics of lice eggs” and “are lice and crabs the same thing?” and “can lice crawl through denim and granny panties?” (No, they like to stay on heads, thank God.)

One thing lead to another and the next thing I knew I had my dog’s flea comb in hand, trolling for live bugs…on my child…the precious, itchy, fruit of my loins.

And sure enough…with the help of that thar flea comb and The Google, my suspicions were confirmed.


Oh Holy Mother of God. There were teeny tiny micro lobsters of doom crawling on my sweet baby’s scalp.

(In defense of my school nurse, it was a pretty mild infestation, but still. Damn.)

Listen. I read the fine print and I knew motherhood was going to be gross when I signed up. I was fully aware there would be ear cleaning and toenail clipping and epic diaper blowouts. I’ve been puked on, peed on, sneezed on… in the mouth. I’ve scraped vomit off a popcorn ceiling. I’ve nursed my various children through a circumcision revision, “mega colon,” two bouts of ring worm, and a festering puncture wound. And I have a magnifying mirror that makes my upper lip look like an angry poisonous centipede; so believe me when I tell you, I know gross. But discovering a lice infestation on a child who just had their head in my lap? The word repulsed doesn’t even scratch the surface for how I was feeling.

I immediately recalled the time we invited some friends over for dinner and they had to cancel because the whole family had gotten lice and was stuck at home with shower caps full of mayo on their heads.

Oh God. This could be bad.

Panic started to set in.

What if we ALL had it?

Couldn’t. Stop. Itching!

Well, if you’ve got to eat a louse, may as well quit staring at it and dig in, right? (Or something like that.)

Suddenly, my fears abated and I knew with a singleness of purpose I haven’t experienced since the night before tax day that I and I alone could save my child and the rest of my family from this pestilence.

Aaaaand, that’s all we have time for today my pretties. Tune in next time to find out how I rid my child of lice, strengthened our relationship, and discovered a hidden talent!

May your weekend be filled with love, laughter, and no lice.

Yours truly,


  1. Carrie

    Great. Now my cootch is itching.


    My nieces had lice about a year ago and my sister handled it so calmly. Not Aunt Carrie. No way, no how.

    I panicked. I screamed “don’t be sharing your combs and brushes with those nasty ass kids at school!” I threatened to shave their heads.

    And this was all over the phone.

    One scrubbing later…good as new.

    (It was Bucket Head, wasn’t it?)

    (I love that boy.)

  2. Michelle

    I HATE getting that form letter from school…”Someone in your class has lice!” Good luck and hope it’s all gone!! Love your ‘poison ivy Easter Bonnet’ description! Fantastic!

  3. L. Hewitt

    I started scratching at the title. My son had these and then gave them to me, it’s been about 20 years, still not over it. You really are getting a universal shit slapping of late, I’ma say a little prayer for you and light candles and chant and other good vibe things for you. I have two BTW & WTF’s – circumcision revision and “in the mouth”? I’m not clicking that link – my computer has not been right since the duck erection. Bless your heart (really).

  4. Katie

    One of my clients had lice- one in a house of ten children. It was a panic. Tea tree oil in everyone’s shampoo, regular checks- and that poor child (thankfully, the only one who got lice!) was subjected to every weird home remedy that the entire staff team could think up: mayo, vaseline, hair dye, tea tree oil- and, of course, the pharmacy treatments. Sadly, we never did kill off the infestation (and it was an infestation!) before she was sent home. I’m excited to hear how you took care of bidness 🙂

  5. Rootietoot

    One word: Shaved head. Ok that’s 2 words. There was an outbreak of lice at the school my 3 young sons attended, and as it was South Alabama and April anyway, we shaved their heads. In fact, nearly all the boys in that school showed up with shaved heads the next Monday after the announcement. This is one advantage of a small rural school, where boys always get their heads shaved before Summer. I don’t know about the girls, tho. I am sure it was much more dramatic.
    Like you, I am sure I would have reacted with the heebie jeebies.

  6. Erika

    This is one reason I’m super happy having four boys – all with short hair (of course, the baby still has no hair). I, on the other hand, have hair down almost to my knees. I think head lice is one of my worst fears. Can’t wait to read about your epic battle!

  7. Poppy

    Not that bad? I’m glad you had years to prep because I seriously have Vietnam style PTSD from the kerosene resistant lice of 2004 that hit our household. Mayonnaise cure my ass.

    • Rebekah @ The Golden Gleam

      Yes have considered taking anxiety meds from dealing with lice in our house. It’s over but there is still this fear we will get it and every time I do the weekly oil treatment and combing to check for lice, I feel this horrible sense of dread.

  8. Dani Ryan

    That’s it. I’m homeschooling.

  9. KBar3

    Eeeeekkkk! I’m itchy!

  10. Kristen

    You deserve an epic and wonderful summer after all this shit! My daughter’s class has had massive lice outbreaks every year (2nd grade now), though it wasn’t quite so bad this year (new building, with spots so their coats don’t touch each other). I’ve threatened her with head shaving if she gets it. Her hair is beyond thick and curly (and almost down to her waist). ugh. I would definitely have to throw some money at that problem! We have a place in our area that will comb out your nits for you.

  11. Teri

    “Teeny tiny micro lobsters of doom”
    Sorry babe but that cracked me up. Now pardon me while I go scratch my head.

  12. Bernie Bickers

    True story – when I was 8 years old I got lice in school. Steel nit comb, kerosene in the hair, crying, the whole 9 yards. Mom brings me to the school nurse for an inspection before they will re-admit me.

    A few days later, BLAMMO, lice again (it was running rampant in the school). More combing, head napalming, and tears. Mom brings me back to the school nurse again and as I’m being checked, she says very loudly “If he gets lice again, I’m shaving his head!”

    At just that moment, the scary school principal – who was cue ball bald – leans into the office and says “I don’t think that would be a good idea Mrs. Stark” and walks away. I almost died right there….

  13. Jennifer

    Cady came down with the lice (freakin’ daycare) WHILE I WAS PREGNANT!!!! Like growing a human isn’t enough of a burden, I had to figure out how to get bugs out of my kids waist length BLOND hair. It was a nightmare.

    {scratch, scratch}

  14. Angie Chapman

    3 times…one kid, 3 times in one school year. The other three of us didn’t get it, but she did, 3 times! I successfully ridded our home and her head all 3 times and now my girls only wash their hair once (maybe twice) a week. The lice don’t like the dirty hair.

  15. Amanda A.

    Why is it that when someone mentions the word LICE your head starts itching?? When my daughter was in kindergarten there was 3 times when she came home with a note saying someone in her class had lice. I guess there is a reason my kids have dirty hair. Lice love clean hair and they wash their hair every 3rd day.

  16. Jane

    I started to gross out that you used the dog’s flea brush but I then I put it in perspective. Good luck!!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha! I know! But it was the only thing I could think of on short notice. All the other combs in the house were too wide. And don’t worry, it was a totally clean flea comb which had been unused for years, I swear! 🙂

      • Sarah L

        Honestly, who actually uses their dog comb? It’s an obligatory purchase when you first get a dog, like the teeny flannel swaddle blankets you buy when you’re pregnant not realizing that they are useless.

  17. Jen

    Please teach me your ways, oh wise one. I just know one of my kids will get lice. I just know it.

  18. Kristin @ What She Said

    Three things:

    1. There was recently a case of lice in Lil’ Bit’s room at school and I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT for, like, a week afterward, obsessively combing through her hair and checking her scalp every morning and evening. Luckily, it was contained but I know – oh, I KNOW – the anxiety of which you speak.

    2. Motherhood really is gross. And to think we voluntarily signed up for this.

    3. It could have been worse – could’ve been crotch lice.

  19. Roshni

    I tried all kinds of treatments and then just shaved his head! Yeah, I’m not naming anyone either! 😛

  20. Menopausal Mother

    We must be on the same brain wave length because this is the time of year I had to battle these suckers when my kids were little–and I was just thinking I should write a blog post about it. Listen, ANYTHING you want to know about head lice–you come to Meno Mama for that info—- we had it over, and over, and…well, you get the point. First time I counted 555 nits and lice in my daughter’s hair when she was in 4th grade. Yes, I counted every one of those bastards. And year after year they came back. I was ready to burn down the house. But I found out what works and what doesn’t through a LOT of trial and error. The elementary school used to call me in to do lice checks on the students because I got so good at finding those suckers, just like a pig rooting out truffles. Yes, I was an official member of The Lice Patrol. You have my deepest sympathies for what you are going through. Welcome to head lice hell (and yes, dammit, I am scratching my head now!).

  21. Denise

    You have a school nurse? Schools here did away with them many years ago. I thought the reasons were expense (of course) and liability. Anyway, can’t wait to hear how you handled it.

  22. Momof4inSC


    We got the dreaded letter when 3 of my 4 were in elementary school about 7 years ago. When I went to check the first kid, I actually SAW a lice squirm away!! After gagging and freaking out, I checked the others and all 4 of them had nits and lice! It was awful! First, we tried the stuff you buy from the store and the comb. When that did not work, we contacted the pediatrician who gave us prescription treatment. When THAT did not work, I had to sit each child in a chair. separate their hair into small sections and go STRAND BY STRAND, cutting out each strand with a nit. I have 2 boys, who were easy but the two girls were much more difficult. One has a super thick head full of spiral curls and the other has thick hair all the way down her back. It took me eight full hour on the four heads of cutting strands of hair from the scalp to get rid of those suckers! I didn’t even take the chance with cleaning pillows and stuffed animals; they all went to the trash with the hairbrushes! It was a horrible experience that I hope I never have to deal with again.

  23. Leigh Ann

    Dude. We haven’t ventured into lice land yet, but I fear that will do me in. There’s a salon here in Austin that will take care of it for you, and I will spare no expense to have someone else rid my children of that crap.

  24. Alison

    My head actually started itching reading this. LESLIE!!!!

  25. Peg D

    Dear Leslie,

    I have 3 daughters all of whom had head lice when they were in elementary school. Of course they all had hair that went half way down their backs. Talk about panic. The first case was in the winter and they all had hooded coats, hats and hair manes that had to be deloused. I thought it could never be worse and then my older sister told me I should be happy that it could be worse. I wanted to know what could be worse and she said pinworms. Talk about disgusting.! May you never have to experience that.

  26. Jean Heff

    As a teacher, you develop a lice stance and a lice walk. The lice stance is where you stand over a kid and look down onto their head so no one notices because you’re pretty sure they have lice and you don’t want to embarrass them/ have lice jump onto your head. The lice walk is where you troll around the room trying to figure out if anyone else in your class has lice. Happens every dang year. You sound like you handled it well at your home, good for you.

    • The Bearded Iris

      You sound like an awesome teacher Jean! I love that you don’t want to embarrass them. Thank you for that! But don’t worry honey – they cannot jump! They can only crawl. Just don’t rub heads with the kids who are doing a lot of scratching and you should be fine. I’ll be sharing a couple of other great tips in my next post, so come on back! XO

  27. Lisa Newlin

    If you need to know anything else about crabs. Let me know. I know a lot about it. I mean…from The Google. NOT from personal experience….

    And I’m ‘still itching from reading this post. I’m definitely NOT itching because of crabs…

    • Lisa Newlin

      Why are there typos in my last post? I’m not even drinking, although I just ate 6 homemade chocolate chip cookies, so maybe I’m on a sugar rush.

      Don’t worry. I didn’t make them. My main gay made them and brought them to me because 2 of our dogs got attacked by 100 pound dogs and are slowly recovering and the third one has kennel cough. Oh, and because I like cookies. And because everyone should have a main gay.

      Wait….I think that’s going to be my next blog post, because everyone should have a main gay.

      But seriously, SIX cookies. Six mother-effing cookies.

      • The Bearded Iris

        I’m pretty sure those cookies don’t count because it’s the weekend. Oh no about your doggies! And quit making me so jelly about you having so many gay friends that you have a “main gay.” Lucky. Bitch, you must be FABULOUS.

  28. Peg D

    Speaking from too much experience with lice(I am a school nurse) Lice CANNOT jump

    • The Bearded Iris

      Thank you! That’s what I read too, and I appreciate you helping to dispel the myths. 🙂

  29. Holly Folly

    Whelp, time to burn the house to the ground. It’s the only way to be sure. (This was pretty much my reaction to finding out that my dog had fleas. Bad fleas. Like they are biting me when I sleep fleas. Yup. High brow living. Nothing like it.)

    • The Bearded Iris

      Ha! That’s exactly how I felt about the fleas too. We haven’t had them in a while, thank GOD. I’m actually more skeeved by the fleas than the lice, if you can believe that. But maybe that’s because I think the lice have been easier to battle and beat than fleas.

  30. Jody Worsham

    Been there, done that, and hope I don’t have to again. Once got the cooties myself when I stuck the horse’s mane comb in my hair for just a second while I was braiding her mane. What was I thinking? The Medicare Mom

  31. whencrazymeetsexhaustion

    Ack!!!!! I was a Girl Scout and I think it’s a badge requirement that we all get lice at least once. My mom wouldn’t even deal with it; she sent me to my friend’s house (who also had lice…the friend, not the house) and my pal’s mom treated our hair in the bathtub. You’re a good Mama, Leslie!

  32. Mom Rants and Comfy Pants

    OMG, I am clawing at my skin right now!! My first experience with lice was when my step-daughter was 6 years old and she was sitting next to me at the dinner table. I was ready to take my clothes off and torch them right then and there. Thankfully, our boys never got it and she only had it the one time. Good thing too or her dad might have shaved her head like he did the boys!

  33. Erin

    Our Summer of Lice was in 2011. Two out of my three kids had it and of course the infested children were the girls with flowing hair NOT the male child where head shaving might have been more appropriate. I tried the regular lice combs, the motorized lice combs, the over-the-counter treatments, the prescription treatments, mayo, and Cetaphil. After about the fourth failed inspection at daycare (the same raunchy ass daycare where they got lice in the first place) I decided to take my flat iron, crank it to 180 degrees, and fry those suckers off.

  34. Shannon

    I am dealing with this right now. I cried as I picked those damn lice out of my daughter’s hair. I grumbled as I spent a bazillion dollars doing a gazillion loads of laundry at the laundromat (although it was nice to get it ALL done in one shot). I may have tortured one of those buggers when I found one on the bed after all of this…but, hey, he got what he deserved.

  35. Julie the Wife

    HOLY SHIT, we are dealing with this right now, second week, I’m dying for your next post to see how you got rid of them! It’s only on one kid, but I’ve combed the gel through the hair SIX times now. SIX TIMES!

    We’ve had pinworms, and they’re easier to get rid of but the shame is exponentially greater.

© 2021 The Bearded Iris

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑