of mice and lice…

December 15, 2010

soul boy1

“Does your head itch?” I said to Jack as I watched him scratch. I acted cool but inside I was FLIPPING the frick OUT.

My whole teaching career I had only one single paranoia, it was lice. I was the teacher in the forever slicked back pony tail, I knew the drill.
The last time the kids got it was years ago, it was in the dead of summer when we lived in the apartment we affectionately called “The Splinter House”, a gorgeous brownstone from the 20’s, with amazing architecture and probably hadn’t been cared for since 42. We couldn’t run the a/c units and washer at the same time so off I went with the entire contents of laundry in the house and three kids to the laundry mat.

Those memories don’t leave you my friends…so there I was, like a mother monkey, nit picking, literally, through Jack’s scalp last night while two lights shown on his head.
“Mom, I think this is kind of relaxing, you know? Watching a movie, you combing my hair, lice isn’t so bad I think.”

This is his father in him I assure you, who could also find the sunny side of lice. I was just thanking my lucky stars Josiah and I didn’t get it. The hair gods knew it would break me. My son with the shoulder length hair twice as thick as mine…thank you sweet Jesus.

Just as the last sheet was pulled off the bed, a transformer blew, *sigh* no power. No power at all. So I wandered and cleaned figuring squalor might have started all this in the first place. I opened the cabinet to put a pan away and there he was.

A small mouse.

Lucy: Oh mom, look at that! He’s so beautiful.
Me: Luce, he’s dead!
Lucy: So, are you saying you only like things that are alive?
Me: Well no, yes, I mean…I don’t know… (as I scooped up his little body and put it in the trash.)
Lucy: I think it’s kind of beautiful.

Jack: He deserves a grave, I think.
Me: This trash grave will have to do my friend.
Jack: Okay, but I think we should say The Pledge of Allegiance…

Without even a beat, we put our hands over our hearts, hovered over the trash can… “I pledge allegiance to the flag…
…with liberty and justice for all.

Jack: Rest in peace, little guy.
Me: I hope you had a sweet mouse life.
Lucy: I hope your family will be my pets.
Lyra: Bye mouse.

The bag was tied and that was that…and the power came back on…and the Christmas of the joy of lice and the beauty of death and the horror of all the cleaning in between goes on… all in some sort of strange family bliss.

12 Responses to “of mice and lice…”

  1. kelly Says:

    oh my. i am laughing so hard at this post, my cheeks are burning.

    …the sunny side of lice…

    …so are you saying you only like things that are alive?…

    …i hope your family will be my pets…

    baaaaahahahahaha! “some sort of strange family bliss” is right….so so right.

    …the pledge of allegiance…

  2. Jess Says:

    Oh, Jack and Lucy are kids after my own heart! I once thought that if only I could get somebody to comb my hair meticulously, I might like having lice. A little. (But I’m ok with never having had it…yet.)

    In our old house, we had a teeny grave under a rosebush, upon which Griff had written “Mousie in the Housie, RIP” – poor little thing ate birdseed in a pot in the garage, then couldn’t escape. He was, like Lucy’s mouse, beautiful.

  3. Kathyn Says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes, isn’t it great that children can see such beauty, even in a dead mouse.

  4. Amber Says:

    Saying the Pledge of Allegiance over a dead mouse? That is so many kinds of perfect, in its own way.

    I hope that the lice are well and truly gone. And I hope the mouse doesn’t have friends.

  5. pagalina Says:

    Nice to get that memo from the principal two days for holiday break, right? ugh!! My kid gave them to ME last summer. made me feel like a pariah. a dead mouse wold be a fine grace note to the whole event!

  6. annette Says:

    oh my goodness! i can’t stop laughing!!! dear, sweet, patience! your name says it all! 🙂

  7. oh, i love how you write. this post so reminded me of my family. xavier came home with a note that he had lice. i went into panic mode, and anxiety mode. and wouldn’t you have it that our washing machine broke down, the very night i was trying to wash and disinfect all the bedsheets. yes girl. i had the fit of fits. somehow we made it through, lice was gone, new washer bought and my sanity regained. so glad i found your blog. you make me smile.

    best regards

  8. gina Says:

    ditto kelly’s comments, all of them

  9. Liz Says:

    ha – lice can be kind of relaxing. That’s so zen.

  10. Kelly Says:

    I’m itching just reading about lice. You and your sweetheart have helped create some fabulous human beings.

  11. Stephanie Kingston Says:

    I just found this post. I’m up 4:13 am post baby feeding..can’t sleep. This post has me cackling in the dark of night. I just wish I had found it last summer. lice. 4th of July weekend. whole family. including my 7 month old with gorgeous locks….first hair cut was a buzz cut like a Marine. My heart broke. I dropped my basket. I lost all sanity and composure. Had I read this prior, I think I might have had a tiny bit more grace in the wake of picking nits doused in tea tree oil, the countless loads of laundry and seemingly endless amount of tears. A dead mouse would have put me over. Thank you for your insight….and humor and light … And next time ( god forbid) …I will be a better mother for reading this!

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