Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So what on earth was wrong with you?

Is that the question you've been asking? Well, hopefully I'll have a few minutes to answer that, although this is all incredibly embarrassing for me to even talk about.

I'll start with just two words:

Head Lice.

Now, if you had asked me to list "experiences which I assume I'll never deal with in my life," I would have ranked that one right up there with contracting leprosy and juggling for the Pope.

It seriously was never on my radar.

Not even close.

I'd like to say that I handled this well, but I don't think screaming "Oh dear Jesus!" and throwing my daughter into the bathtub was the best way to handle it.

And then I cried. A lot.

So, on top of dealing with the normal responsibilities of a homeschooling mom of eight, AND trying to cope with an exceptionally high-maintenance newborn, I now had the joy of dealing with something so over the top I had no idea how to possibly cope.

Each day (for 21 days) requires a thorough combing of each child, plus running each person's sheets through the dryer for 20 minutes... plus doing all the laundry, bagging everything up, and vacuuming all the furniture.

1 hour per head X 10 people = 10 hours
20 min per bed X 10 beds     = 200 min = 3 hours 20 min.

You do the math.

And yet I was able to go to the chapel, kneel down, and thank God for this whole experience... and mean it.


As awful as this experience has been, I can truly say that I've learned quite a bit. For starters, I was able to see this not as a "God hates me and look what He just dumped on me," but rather a "this is an experience He has allowed for a reason, and I want to see it through to find out what it is."

Patience: I already knew I was mighty low on patience, but when I was faced with 10+ hours of tedious hair combing, every single day, I realized with stunning clarity that I was completely sunk if I didn't rely on Him to get me through each hour. He did.

Thoroughness and Determination: Attention to detail never mattered more than when I was having to focus my eyes on finding each egg and nit in my children's hair. I had to block out everything else and throw myself into the job I was given, taking all the time necessary to examine (basically) each shaft of hair. As I combed through each child's hair, I was struck with how much time I was willing to devote to this... and those disgusting little creatures are SO incredibly small! And yet, if I didn't, the results would be disastrous -- one louse could easily turn into hundreds in the course of just a few weeks.

How willing am I to look at the sin in my own life? What "little" sins and habits have I developed which, unchecked, could grow exponentially into something horrific?

Time with my kids: This experience truly forced me to s...l...o...w......d...o...w...n... and spend time with my children. I spent the time combing going over their homeschooling, talking about their thoughts and dreams, etc. What a blessing it was to have an hour with each one of my kids!

Complaining: After getting over the initial crying, I learned to suck it up and deal with it like a good little soldier. We were all in this experience together, so there was no one to complain to! Instead, I've been able to put things (a little bit) into perspective. A crying baby is NOTHING compared to a day of combing out hair. I'm sorry, but it just isn't.

Judging Others: This was the big one. Before this experience, if you had asked me what I thought of people who got lice, I would have listed poor, dirty, greasy-haired, filthy, etc etc etc. I'm sorry, but that was just the mental image I had of people who got lice.

Well, I was knocked off my high horse rather quickly.

I went from feeling pretty good about myself and our standing as a family to becoming an instant pariah. We suddenly become one of "those families" that you wouldn't want to be around, because who on earth would want to expose themselves to something like that? I started sympathizing with the lepers in the NT, who had to go around shouting, "Unclean! Unclean!" I had to swallow my pride and call various friends who had been in close contact with us that I had possibly exposed them to lice. I had to duck my head and go into a pharmacy where everyone knows me, and buy a BOX full of lice shampoo (prescription). Do you think you can somehow manage to miss someone buying 31 bottles of lice shampoo? Not likely. I went from thinking I was above all that to realizing that no, I was just another one of the poor fools that has to deal with this sort of thing.

Walking with the saints: Above all, I got to see what real love in action looks like when my mother-in-law came to our house at the start of all this, and voluntarily stayed to "fight the good fight." Who on earth voluntarily goes into a house with lice? My saintly mother-in-law does.

She has stripped beds every day for close to 3 weeks now, running the sheets through the dryer and remaking the beds.

She has done more loads of laundry than is humanly possible.

She has held a screaming baby while I've combed hair... cleaned my house when it was obvious that there was no way I'd ever be able to get to it... taken my children for walks... endured hours of hair combing on herself... vacuumed every piece of furniture nightly... and never once lost her smile. If you want to see what a living saint looks like, look at my husband's mom. She is the most amazing person you will ever meet.

So, that is what has been going on over here... how's life with you?


Casey said...

Oh dear! I'm so sorry you had to go through that but I'm glad you're able to sit back some and find some of the silver lining in it. I had head lice over and over again as a child. Once my Mom cut my hair so horribly short that I looked like an 8 year old boy in my school picture that year. I hope this is your one and only encounter with the pests.

elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elizabeth said...

Ugh -- this is why I so seldom comment, can't type on this keyboard to save my life.

Trying again: I read but rarely take the time to comment - sorry! God Bless you and all your family for getting through this. Thank you for sharing honestly, I so often think I am alone in my not handling things so smoothly right off. WOW - oh, wow -- your mil and you are saints in my book!! It is such a treasure to hear how He brought you through and how you were open to see all the ways He blesses us -- even when we feel like we're sunk! :D

Rebekka said...

Oh, man. I would have shaven everyone's heads.

Ouiz said...

Thank you for all the comments!

Casey, I'm so sorry you had to go through this more than once! I have instructed my children that from now on, we will NEVER share hats, scarves, coats, etc. with anyone. Heck, I'm afraid to try on clothing at a store now... or sit in a movie theater... or have my head touch ANYTHING. ewwwwwwww.

Elizabeth, thank you for commenting! My MIL has been such an inspiration to me. She just lost her husband two months ago, and yet here she is, fighting the good fight with a smile on her face. Her enthusiasm never dims. I hope to be like her when I grow up!

Rebekka, my husband has already threatened to shave us all! ;-) He was looking forward to being balf, but the rest of us voted him down. Can you imagine a family of 10 bald people? hahahahahahaha!

Beth said...

OMG!!!!!! God bless you Ouiz!

Hope T. said...

You forgot one other positive outcome: your house is really, really clean.

I have heard that tea tree oil is a great preventative for lice. They hate it. So you could put tea tree oil in your regular shampoo (or get shampoo with it already added) and then use that whenever they wash their hair.

Your MIL sounds wonderful. I wish I had even a smidgen of that saintliness.

Suburban Cowgirl said...

Ouiz - Rock On girl! Once again, you prove how awesome our God is - and how He works through the strangest circumstances! You continue to impress and amaze me! Welcome back to the blogsphere! You were missed!

Ouiz said...

Beth, thank you! He did, although it was a rough ride...

Hope, you're right -- my house is the cleanest on the block, thanks to my MIL!

SCG, thank you! Like I said, this has been a rough month, but after we settled in and got our heads wrapped around the idea that this is what we were going to have to do, it got better.

Still wish you were here. I would have cried on your shoulder (I would have worn a shower cap, though, so you wouldn't be afraid to be near me! LOL!)