ridding a child’s hair of lice

Last night I started sorting the last of the boxes of papers and other crap that I stupidly lugged from Iowa to Canada. Rob says not to be hard on myself about it, but it’s hard not to when you spend an entire afternoon shredding receipts that predate your daughter’s birth and are sorting through old check duplicates from four years ago. This was all stuff I had more than enough time to handle even before Will died and I simply let it stack up. And why? Because I let my inertia take over and I listened to people when they told me that it was okay because of my circumstances. It wasn’t okay. It still isn’t. But, it’s done. I have sorted the wheat from the chaff and can now get on to the much less fun task of filing.

I am a horizontal filer by nature being a concrete random and all. Filing just doesn’t feel natural and sticking them away in drawers even less so. Worse is that I can’t find them at all once they are neatly put away. It’s as if file cabinets are kryptonite and once the papers are securely encased within them, I lose all sense of them. When they are scattered about or in plastic totes, I can hone in on nearly anything quite quickly. But filed papers disappear from my radar and I can be rifling through the exact folder I need and never find it at all.

Fortunately the ordeal was just depressing from a self-recriminating standpoint. Last night I found a lot of the paperwork from hospice, the funereal home and the autopsy that was performed on his brain and spinal cord by the university to which I donated his tissue so that researchers working on ALD can learn from him. I also found more of the cards that my MIL has sent sporadically since November of 2006, but I didn’t bother to read them again. Today’s fun was limited mainly to pictures, Katy’s school stuff, receipts and old billing statements. And of course my regrets that I wasn’t on top of the clutter the way I should have been. It seems to me sometimes that my now is forever running into or falling over piles of debris from my then. Perhaps life is this way anyway and it was just something I didn’t notice until now, but it is still cause for heavy sighs.

And finally, would a day around here be complete without nit-picking? I think not. We find the tiniest bug. Just one. It’s dead now. And two dozen nits – picked them suckers with a vengeance. Kate’s bedding is still being washed daily and all clothing worn by each of us is tossed in the wash basket regardless. Tuesday is the next shampoo treatment and then – knocking all wood within arm’s reach – perhaps we can get back to normal. Although I think our sofa will have to go since neither Rob nor I can bring ourselves to sit on it (his nephew was an inert mass there for his whole visit and interestingly Rob remembered that the boy confessed to a very recent short haircut after Rob wondered what had happened to the long hair that adorned his Facebook photos – my loathing for SIL continues).

Well, my sis-in-law’s visit has turned out to the be gift that keeps on giving. Katy has lice. The irony abounds really because back in Des Moines Katy had a classmate who had lice, continually it seemed, for two years and despite her long curly hair, she never did get it. The reason for that of course is that lice isn’t that easy to catch. According to the health unit nurse I spoke with this morning (and my best friend in Iowa who is a nurse as well) it really takes head to head contact such as sharing pillows, bedding and hats. So, even though it is remotely possible that Katy could have picked up the offending insects at school or child-minding at the fitness center, the most likely suspect is Rob’s niece who slept up in Katy’s room on the trundle bed. Katy loves the trundle and played on it, building tents and such for days after. Also, it given the time span needed from contact to infestation (7 to 10 days), Rob’s niece fits the profile (the girl had her hands in her hair constantly -raking and rubbing). When Rob saw the title for today’s blog he said, “So you are just going to blame my niece for this then?” “Yep,” I replied. He just shook his head and laughed, “I hope my sister never finds and reads your blog. She’ll never speak to me again.” Ah, if it were only that easy to rid one’s life of drama-makers.

So, in addition to the hair-treating – mine too probably because I have long hair and Katy is in close contact with me – there are beds to be stripped and washed……..again. Clothes to be washed. Stuffed things and dress-up clothes to be bagged. The cat, according to my best friend, should be dipped in a flea bath. (And the cat is becoming a saga onto herself anyway at this point. One more straw and Rob is going to reassemble his old shot-gun.) Rob volunteered to work from home today to help out. The last lice scare, which was the first time Katy’s daycare sent home a note, I stripped and quarantined stuffies while Will walked in circles – something he was wont to do because of the dementia – oblivious, unable to even give moral support. I commented yesterday on Alicia’s blog piece about how hard it is to be a single parent. I made the observation that even having a second adult around didn’t change things in some respects. But I didn’t mean with the heavy lifting, like today. Rob will help with the cleaning and head dousing. For me the emotional aspects of parenting have always been and continue to be the toughest thing. I just find it draining to be on call to another human being from infinity to beyond. Katy is very demanding and has been since moment one. She doesn’t make the demands on Rob or anyone else really that she does of mean in terms of needing my attention and needing me near. And I am a person who needs down time and to retreat into myself in order to maintain equilibrium. Perhaps because double parenting is so new to me I went into it with expectations that were too high. I really thought I would be magically altered and that the things about Katy – her clingyness and incessant questioning and her difficulty entertaining herself – wouldn’t bother me as much anymore or that Rob’s presence would abate this somewhat.

Rob and I talked about this last night. I told him that I just don’t find joy and fulfillment in the kinds of things that most mothers seem to. Sitting for 45 minutes in that nasty waiting room at her ballet school for instance is beyond boring, but their our moms their happily nattering away like it was an outing for them. Last spring we were visiting my folks and tagged along to a t-ball game of my 6 year old nephew, I was so bored. The coaches do their best to move those games along but it is still painfully slow. My sister though had a grand time with the other parents. Clearly this is social for her. Just thinking about years of this kind of thing to come doesn’t give me the same thrill that many parents seem to get. Rob’s late wife coached their girls even, but I was a basketball and a volleyball coach when I taught middle school. Did that for years, but only because they paid me. I couldn’t imagine doing it for any other reason. Coaching is thankless and the kids’ parents are maddening to deal with. My friend Meg literally sacrificed her free time for her three girls. Nothing superseded their activities, not even her own needs really. She was quite Buddha like in her contentment about it too. I sometimes think that years and years from now Katy will sit around with her friends and say this like, “I love my mom, but she just wasn’t quite cut out for motherhood.”

Mounds of lousy (maybe an exaggeration as we find just a few bugs and no nits yet on Katy) call me from the basement below. Rob should be back in the next little while with the shampoo and treatment stuff. Fun awaits.