When one of the girls came home with lice I was horrified! Just horrified. My entire childhood and the first ten years as a parent I had never heard of a single case. I knew there was such a thing, but I had never seen a louse before. Had never known anyone that had one of the pestiferous bugs before. (Pestiferous… great word, huh?)
But as soon as we moved to Ketchikan one of the girls got it. I wont say which one, but it was the red-headed one. The one with long, thick hair. The one who was fastidious about her appearance. The one who ascended into hysterics, screeching “Get it off, Get it off,” the entire delousing process. A sweaty, unnerving process.
I called my mom. I called my mom a lot. I called my mom whenever I was handed something new and a little terrifying. She shared with me the story of living in North Carolina. She and her sister got lice, a fairly common thing Down South. They sat on the back porch while the maid covered their head in lard. Then they sat. And sat, waiting for the lard to smother ’em. Then the maid proceeded to cheerfully “nit-pick” any eggs or remaining bugs.
If my girls had not gotten lice I would never had know that my mother once lived in North Carolina. I would never have known that her family once had a maid. A maid whose job it was to lard up the girls and nit pick their heads. It really sounded like something straight out of “The Help.” So yeah, lice. I guess that was a bit of serendipity of the itchy kind.