Tuesday, November 11, 2008

options in vermin

I seem to have had the kind of day that can only be excused by having Steve Martin walk in the door, saying 'hoooooney, I'm ho-ome!'

Cue the laugh track, folks, because the Imperfects have taken 'wow suckiness' over the edge and into cheap comedy. It began this morning, with a focussed, quick-moving Eldest and a recalcitrant Toddles. No, wait - to be absolutely precise, today began last month and with a book.

Over a few weeks, I've traded in our worrying Skin Deep scores for primarily 2s and 3s, with our lonely 5 and 6 reserved for the Man. I took my handy-dandy Sharpie to every bottle and tube, labelling them with their score. And for the Man, I added some suggestions for lower scored products. Looks like we're just going to keep the 'everybody makes their own decisions' conversation going for a while here...

Trading in my skin care products, however, was not so simple. Would this dry my skin out? Leave it too oily? What about deep cleaning pores? And can we avoid nuts and seeds and gluten-containing grains, along with the scary chemicals? Without the scary price tags? Um. Maybe. But when it comes to dandruff shampoo, I was stumped. None broke the bank, but most had wheat or some other verboten ingredient. I'd found one that left my hair oddly oily, and was still hunting around for another when I begain to wonder how well this thing handled dandruff, let alone why it was dumping oil on me.

I'm itchy, I thought - paused - thought again. Before I could chase the thought to its conclusion, the phone rang. Oh, sure! We'd love to have a playdate. Just drop him off - mm hm, yep - and we can feed him dinner before you get back. The Eldest glowed, I grinned, and happily bounced off to indulge in a moment of well-earned paranoia.

Yep. Again.

When he brought them home the first time, I felt terrible. The poor sweetie, so itchy from his eczema that he never noticed the crawling ickies? Oh, how we'd failed him. This time, however, I was just pissed. I have filing to do. Menus to make. Companies to harrass about potential cross-contamination (did you know that One-Pie canned pumpkin has potential nut and seed cross-contamination? hrugh), columns to write. And apparently, nits to pick.

Nevermind, I said cheerily - not so easy with the clenched jaw, let me tell you - I have a stash of lice treatments. We'll get this taken care of right now, I informed the boys. And off I went to my stash. We had nit and egg removal gel, a spray for unwashable items, and no - no? - shampoo. Oh.

Okay, I thought. We'll get more. Lots more. But, oh, can't leave for the next 3.75 hrs, or we'll miss the repair guy who is finally going to solve the dishwasher problem. Six weeks of arguing, and I'm sticking this one out. But staying here without lice management? Oh, no. I snagged my complementary medicine book and was informed that we would mix filtered water with tea tree oil, rub that into the hair and scalp, and do a careful combing. Right, then.

The Toddles wailed when I explained the plan, wailed again when I offered a DVD, and wailed some more when I informed the boys that the Eldest would go first. (Note to self: try to avoid delousing a newly awakened toddler.) I settled the Eldest next to the sink, and answered the phone. Yes, I told the pleasant repair man, we're here. See you in fifteen minutes.

Twenty minutes later, I was focussed on vermin - and so was the repair guy. Do you have mice? he asked, I don't know anything other than a mouse that can chew it's way into a dishwasher. Rinsing off something small and wriggling, I blinked. Chew? CHEW??


(Fuck breathing - CHEW???)

Tell you what, I suggested, I'll handle one vermin at a time.

The laundry piled up, and so did the nits in the sink. Held in place by a combination of cookies and growls, the Toddles bent his head to me. Is that a bug? he asked, twisting to see. Is that one a bug? Can I keep it?

I'm not sure, the handyman admitted. Ask your mother. The Toddles looked at me hopefully, but I was mentally bopping his visually impaired father on the head, and didn't reply. Can't get the air conditioner out, eh? I muttered. Window won't open, hmmm? I glared at the Toddles' scalp. Must be that the window is broken, because surely there's no bracket holding it shut. Under the comb, the Toddles winced, considered and reached for another cookie. Can't imagine why the wife thinks there might be a bracket, when clearly there isn't. Oh, noooo.

Quietly, the handyman fled. The laundry piled up higher, the playdate canceled, and I sent a message to the Man. Lice, I informed him. Drowning at work, he blipped back. I raised a dangerous eyebrow.

Behind me, the laundry filled the hallway, making a nice little infested barrier between the boys and the kitchen. The Toddles noted the pile's potential and dug in. Oh, said the Eldest, himself wrist deep in infested bedding. Should we not do that?

I snarled.

The beds stripped, the washing machine whining and my scalp itchy, I yanked a kerchief over my head. I can either delouse myself or feed the kids, I told myself sternly, but not both. And oh, for some post-bedtime quiet. (In the background, the Eldest sensed a cue and roared at his brother. The Toddles, justifiably, bopped him.) And some chocolate, I mused. Opening the fridge, I found my leftovers sitting in a small puddle of something brown and organic. Not chocolate, then, I suggested, and pulled my jaw shut. Whisky? On the shelf above, lettuce dissolved and quietly dribbled downwards.

No short-cuts today. And shouldn't that have become obvious by now? I glared at the ceiling, paused, told Skin Deep to shut up for a few - and called the Man to order up some poison.

One pot of basil-artichoke pasta, and a fragrant Indian tomato soup later, I called the SIL. I'm making dinner, I told her. And explained. The SIL didn't miss a beat. Given that, she informed me, making dinner is positively heroic. I grinned at the phone. Yep. But I called you so that you could tell me so.

By more-or-less bedtime, the boys had filled their tummies and I'd grimly poisoned their scalps. Scratching, I reluctantly poisoned mine while the Man experimented with his brand-new home barbering kit. He stuck his head in the door, looking like a cat who'd lost an argument. What do you think? he asked. I'm wondering why I bothered paying for a haircut before now! IHe posed in the doorway, odd tufts sprouting from his scalp - and grinned proudly at me.

Steve Martin he isn't, our Man, but he offers a humor all his own. And, after the day's bad comedy, I was happy to let him walk around like that for a couple of hours before tidying him up.


mother in israel said...

I don't use shampoos, the lice are resistant to them. And they don't kill eggs, despite the promises, so they will be back and you will have to shampoo again, and hope that they all die, and that you caught all the eggs after they hatched. Instead, I put a little conditioner on the wet hair and comb every other day for two weeks.

Good luck. What about the mice?

joy said...

Oi vey. You are not only heroic but deserve some sort of medal or statue in your honor. Perhaps a statue that also makes dinner so that you can catch a damn break once in awhile?


jgfellow said...

Well ex-C-U-U-U-U-U-U-U-SE ME!

dykewife said...

well, dang, you had a particularly pesky day, didn't you? reading it made my scalp itch.

that's one thing that we (knock wood) managed to avoid with boy was the nasty old head lice, though we got notices from teh school yearly to be on the watch for them and report them to the health nurse should we find any.

i'm sure our house is full of high number cosmetics. boy loves his "manly" bodywash/shampoo, i like my hand and nail lotion from vaseline. bran was actually prescribed dove soap because his skin is dry. i won't even get into the chemical content of nizoral shampoo (which i use once or twice a week).

i'm glad you made it through the day and managed to get the boys all fed and in bed. there should be awards for mothers who manage through days like that.

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

M.i.I., I'm starting to agree with you. My chemical-headed boys woke up the next morning, and there were wriggling things on their scalps. So, I'm back to tea tree and water, and combing them three times a day. But ask me tomorrow if it works.

joy, dw, YES. And if they ever hand them out, I'll let you know...

JG, darlin' - if you want to make dinner, go right ahead. And there *was* a bracket.

mother in israel said...

I wish i hadn't been right. But you don't need to comb three times a day. After you get out the first batch of live ones, you have a week between the time they hatch and the time they reach maturity. You can miss the really tiny ones, but every other day is more than enough.

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

A week? Oy vey.

(deep breath and psychosomatic itching)

Okay, so it's not over then, is it. I'll comb every other day. Do I need to keep washing the kids bedclothes? My feeling was infestation = wash the sheets and blankets.

mother in israel said...

No!! Washing the bedclothes might help you feel better but it will not help prevent or treat lice. They don't survive long off of the head--they need blood every few minutes to survive. In theory, an egg that fell off a head could hatch right near some hair and latch on, but that is not something you need to worry about. Even if it happened, your combing would take care of it.

mother in israel said...

To reiterate--you must keep combing for two weeks. One week to allow all of the eggs to hatch, and one additional week to be sure you've caught all of the new babies.derive

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

Got it. Still combing over here - and still finding nothing. But I'll keep going for a while.

Hmm. This is a good opportunity to train the Man in the fine art of egg-spotting.

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

Got it. Still combing over here - and still finding nothing. But I'll keep going for a while.

Hmm. This is a good opportunity to train the Man in the fine art of egg-spotting.

Anonymous said...

Chlorine in water used on the scalp can encourage dandruff. Perhaps installing a shower filter if you don't already use one will lessen the need for dandruff shampoo?