One balmy afternoon as we were lounging in the villa in Cali, Colombia, our guide showed up to take the “boys” out on the town for go-cart driving and other frivolity that boys would eat up. Our little Colombian princess had been with us for about a week at that point. She was sitting on our guide’s lap when miniscule white bugs were discovered in her luscious black hair. My failing eyesight had not detected them. Maybe this is why it’s good for “older” parents to adopt… they can’t see what’s REALLY happening in their care! I ran for my reading glasses!
My only experience with lice was in 1991 when I was substitute teaching in Fort Vermilion, Alberta. It was a kindergarten class, that I had completely under my superb control, when the school nurse made a surprise visit to check for the little white bugs on the heads of my pupils. Eight of the kids left the room after the inspection and I continued to scratch my head the rest of the day. Just the thought makes my head itch!
Fast-forward to 2010 in Cali when one of MY children is bug-laden. Immediately I ran to the little grocery store in our compound and asked for lice shampoo. A small single-use packet was produced and purchased… and I didn’t scratch my head once while in the store. By this time, our boys were on their way into the city and realization hit that we should all be checked for BUGS in our HAIR! Thankfully, our sweet cook was more than willing to search through our heads AND apply the insecticide shampoo to the little princess. Lo and behold, some of the critters had made the jump to my scalp as well! This took me several hours to come to grips with. I could not understand how little creatures could be living on my head AND I DIDN’T NOTICE!!! I notice everything… well, except lice living with me. Back to the store I went, somewhat humbled at the thought of asking for MORE lice shampoo. The teller actually laughed….. LAUGHED! I told him in my lame Spanish (translated back to lame English for your enjoyment) “NO, the laugh!”
As my new daughter was having the rather nice-smelling shampoo rubbed into her head, I was on google looking up lice statistics, translating them into Spanish for the aid of my self-image. I kept reading lines to our cook like “The term ‘head lice’ is searched globally by Google users 450,000 times in a month.” That made me feel better because I was in good company! “Lice are attracted to CLEAN hair which is why they are more common in girls than boys.” “Every year, between 6 and 12 million people worldwide get head lice.” See, how can that many people be wrong!?! Later, our guide in Bogota explained that ALL the kids have lice and need to be treated!
Finally it was my turn to have a thorough scalp massage (albeit with insecticide!) and sit for ten minutes while the death cream did its duty. My older daughter was mortified that I would make a note on facebook as to our daily adventure. She was obviously my daughter because she had also wrongly associated head lice with dirty people. It’s not true! I read the clean hair preference to her again. Didn’t help. She was horrified that her friends might find out her family had bugs on their brains. Flabbergastedly, she asked, “Why do you want people to know about this?” In the spirit of adventure from the movie UP! I explained that on the scout sash of my life, I just earned my Lice Badge! Just like Russell earning his Assisting the Elderly badge. She was still not impressed! Hey, another day…. another bit of drama!
Ironically, our little Colombiana never wants to use my hairbrush because she thinks it’s dirty because there is hair stuck in it. Sheesh!