My daughter is seven years old and this year she begged me to let her go to overnight camp. I initially stood my ground and repeated “No, you are too young. Ask me in a year.” But she begged, pleaded and promised me that she would take care of her very curly and out of control hair which she has been growing for more than 2 years. Finally I gave into her pleas and agreed to send her to camp for 4 weeks. I added that there was one caveat: She had to take care of her hair. I sent her to camp with 2 special brushes designed for curly hair. She promised me that she would wash, condition and BRUSH her hair. Despite her promises, I warned her that dread locks are not attractive on a seven year-old and I would get her long hair CHOPPED if I saw ONE dread on that precious head when I came to get her.
Imagine my surprise that not even a week after we dropped K off for her first summer at overnight camp and we get the call that no parent wants to get: Your child is afflicted with LICE, LOUSE, EGGS, NITs (or is that KNITS)? My head is itching at the mere thought! My perfect, precious, angelic child has BUGS crawling and growing in her hair!
This is not the first time that I have received a call like this. When she was five, the day care center called me with a lice alert. At the time I think that I crawled under my desk and screamed “Oh Sh%T! Not my child! I wash her hair! She can’t have lice. I swear to G-d, we bathe!” Ask my co-workers, they heard me screeching across the call center floor.
As it turns out, she had AN EGG and a bad case of dandruff. But now…. We’re talking the full blown out thing. And, of course, where there is one, there are more cases looming all over the camp. My over active imagination has gone wild and I am anticipating that K will now be labeled “Lice girl” and be ostracized by the entire camp. No one wants “the cheese touch.” (Read Diary of a Wimpy Kid if you don’t believe me.) Why? Why does K have to be the one child in her cabin to spread pestilence into the camp?
What makes things worse is that K is now a bit homesick. So what did she do last night during the all-camp bonfire? She crawled into the Camp Director (and owner’s) lap and hugged her for at least 5 minutes; head to head. Double Sh%t! So, now my kid not only has lice but she may have infected the Camp Director. Boy! This is just getting better and better. K will now go through the DAILY lice inspection and hair washing as the camp tries to avoid a campus-wide epidemic. Her cabin mates, and especially the counselors, will surely LOVE having her in their group because, they too, will have to tolerate daily inspections.
Was I a bad mother? Did I ignore my daughter’s hygiene? WE BATHE!! I swear to G-d, we do! My husband even asked me if there was something that he could have/should have been doing that would have avoided this public embarrassment? Uh, no! In fact, I have learned that lice are attracted to CLEAN hair!! They don’t like all of those oils and scalp crud. Was K’s hair too clean? Too well brushed? I don’t know.
What I do know is I have quite a job ahead of me washing sheets, bed linens, the dog, the cat….shall I keep going? My husband, a closet hypochondriac, will surely be itching and asking me to check his scalp daily if not twice a day. Oy! And I thought that I got a parental reprieve this month.
Can’t wait to see her in 3 weeks and there better not be dread locks in her hair!