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Amelia Bystry

This, that and the odder

Whenever something bad happens in our house, I tell my mom, “It could always be worse.” But I think, so far, this story takes the cake.

A few weeks ago my aunt called my mom and said that her daughter was diagnosed with a terrible disease called lice. This seemed extremely funny at the time until my mom remembered we had seen them the day before, and the likelihood that nobody had touched heads was slim to nothing.

My mom freaked out and called our Aunt Pam who is an expert on lice. She worked at Lincoln School for years as the secretary and has checked kids for lice many times. She agreed to come out later that afternoon and perform a full head check on everyone. To my mom’s relief, everybody came out clear.

We didn’t give it another thought until about two weeks later on a Sunday evening. My sister, Faustina, walked out of the living room with both hands on her head scratching like a banshee. She said, “My head itches.”

My mom didn’t even bother to check for lice because she knew. It was the coldest day of the year, and my mom didn’t want to drive into town to go to Walmart, so she found a home remedy concoction on the Internet and put it together. It was made up of lavender oil, tea tree oil and shampoo. She then started treating all the girls’ heads.

The directions on the Internet said to put the concoction into your hair, and then leave it in for one hour with a shower cap on. Of course, a shower cap in our house is just a joke. They would become dress up items before anyone had a chance to use them, so my mom had to improvise.  She thought a Walmart sack should do the trick, and she tied them on our heads. We were able to get my youngest sister, Patience, to cooperate by having her copy Faustina. At first she was really excited, but about 30 minutes into the treatment, Patience went missing. We found her hiding in a corner with her bag off of her head. She seemed very ashamed but flatly refused to put it back on. We tried to talk her into wearing a pretty polka dot sack from Gymboree, but the thrill of wearing a bag on your head wears off fast ... and nobody wanted to argue with a very strong-willed 2 year old.  

The entire lice treatment had to be done every day for two weeks and included drying all of the bedding for 25 minutes each day and picking the nits out of their hair. My mom performed the treatment on Patience and Faustina but did not continue to do herself or me because we did not have lice. 

On Day 5 of the treatment process, my mom took a break from it all and gave birth to our little brother, Angelo. She continued the extremely time-consuming process on Day 7 when Angelo was less than 2 days old. My Aunt Pam helped immensely by taking Faustina and Patience for a “girls” day. She treated their hair again and gave them makeovers. I am trying to imagine them wearing a Walmart sack on their heads while getting makeovers ...

Our lice issues were put out of our minds with the end of the two-week treatment. It was joyfully forgotten. A couple weeks passed quickly with all the excitement of our family happenings.

Then we all gathered at my Grandma Susan’s house to watch the Super Bowl. My mom wanted to check my cousins’ heads to make doubly certain they were lice free, so they couldn’t pass the problem back to us. She discovered my younger cousin had lice when they originally thought he was clear. She knew that an easy way to deal with boys that had lice was to just shave their hair really short.  My cousin was all for the idea, so my mom proceeded.

After she was finished and we had cleaned up all of the hair, I started freaking out that my head itched. My mom said I was just being paranoid, but she agreed to check me. She made a careful and thorough check of my head, and sad to say, she found some nits. So, after all the stressful, tedious and time-consuming procedures, we had to start over. Guess what? I found nits in my mom’s hair too!

My mom splurged for shower caps this time, and we have the whole lice treatment down to a science. Everyone in the house is getting treated this time because nobody wants to go through this again. It has definitely been a very stressful few weeks in our house, but, “It could always be worse.”

Amelia Bystry, 15, resides in rural Princeton. You can contact Amelia at.amelia_bystry@yahoo.com.