We are living the dream, travelling to exotic destinations, hanging out in guesthouses with rooms that have 600 year old temple carvings on the walls and eating Indian Thali dishes that can turn the biggest meat eater into a vegetarian. Best of all we manage to squeeze all that happiness within a modest budget. Great, right? What can possibly go wrong?Well, many things can go wrong. I fear crazy drivers, food poisoning, malaria or dengue fever, stupid accidents, kids getting lost, passports getting stolen again or loosing our one and only credit card and getting stuck somewhere with no cash on our hands.
Instead we got lice.
Mainly Raina, even though the whole family got affected. I myself could boast a few but somehow miraculously overnight Raina’s head had become a sweet home to an army of lice and their numerous unborn babies. Big deal you might sigh. True. I couldn’t agree more. Even though it was my first time combating lice as a mother I approached the challenge with optimism and high spirits.
Until the lice became a pain in the butt.
Raina drew the line at cutting her hair as a solution. I drew the line at using vinegar as a natural repellent. We live in small spaces and I didn’t want to have to tolerate the smell. Instead I vowed to kill the little intruders with patience and perseverance.
With that in mind our war on lice began.
On the day we found THEM Kuba ventured out looking for cure. Please find something natural that smells good, I pleaded with him. He was gone for quite a while. I can’t even imagine what kind of gestures he used to explain himself but he came back proudly clutching small packages with coconut neem camphor shampoo supposed to stunt the lice so we could easily comb them out. Perfect! We did the shampoo thing but realized that our regular comb was not designed to catch any stunted lice. Crap!
Step 1. Get a lice comb.
At the different shops I would first use the gesture of combing my hair and the keeper’s face will light up. Yes! A comb! They would then pull out a few combs for me to choose from. I would then shake my head in disappointment. No, not this kind of a comb… Then I would point at my head in a few spots and try to impersonate an imaginary lice with many little feet moving in all directions. The sellers would look at me in horror and shrug shoulders. Finding the required lice comb (I still don’t know how a lice comb is supposed to look like) proved to be mission impossible.
Scrap the lice comb. Instead we got two small combs with tiny teeth.
Step 2. Apply the special shampoo. Comb. Repeat.
It didn’t work great. We caught a few live buggers but that was that.
Step 3. Find a pharmacy. Ask for the strong stuff, the one that is supposed to kill them ALL in one easy application. I was ready to pull the big guns. All the Ayurveda stuff never works, Kuba kept crooning in my ear. Maybe he was right.
Step 4. Apply the strong stuff, wait 15 min. Wash. The box didn’t instruct to comb but we did, because we had the tiny combs and felt like using them.
Not much of a result. Lice were still happily frolicking in there. The surprise – they were big, really big. Dang!
Step 5. Apply the strong stuff again.
Nada.THEY were still very much alive.
Step 6. Revert to Ayurveda in hopes that it will work this time. Shampoo, comb the stunted lice, insult them, kill the captured ones with vengeance. Repeat. I showed no mercy to the ones I caught even though we were sharing a wall with a Jain temple whose followers believe in ahimsa (non-violence). I don’t support violence towards animals but I was beginning to get very frustrated! On a side note: the priests at the Jain temple next door would even cover their mouths so they don’t swallow any bugs by mistake and meanwhile I was waging a genocide right under their noses:( Yap, not proud of myself.
Before I knew it I was spending hours each day dealing with lice with no end in sight. All the products we were using were getting rid of the live lice but too slowly and with too much work on my end.
In a nutshell all my efforts to evict THEM were going nowhere. And Raina’s hair was decorated with so many little white dots it made me hopeless.
I was trying my best to honor Raina’s wish not to get her hair cut. I was sympathetic because when I was 13 I got lice at school and confided in my grandma. We both tried to get rid of them without too much fanfare, manually, by picking the nits by hand and killing whatever lice came our way. I chose not to tell my mom and tried to keep things under wraps as I didn’t want to loose my newly grown longish hair. My mom found out about the secret because of a mean lice who decided to take a walk through my grandma’s forehead during peak time – our family dinner. Mom then decided that cutting my hair is the easiest way out. The whole experience left me feeling quite disgruntled and angry.
So now I was a mother myself trying to keep my cool and not cut my daughter’s hair driven by despair.
On day 13 I had enough though. Forget about patience and perseverance. Forget about me promising not to touch the scissors.
I grabbed them, found a secluded spot by a temple and started carefully cutting Raina’s hairs housing the little white eggs. I kept telling myself that I am doing it right, a selective cutting, it just can’t be too bad, right? She would still have her long hair, I was just layering it a little…
Wheh, there. Now I understand you mom and forgive. You were right as always.
As for the lice and their babies, they are gone. Or at least I hope so.
I declare the situation under control.
Have you ever had to deal with lice? What works in your experience? I need to know because Raina’s little frenemies might return and this time I want to be prepared.