Head Lice 2016: Can't we all just get along?

 In the days after the polarizing American election, we are being reminded by politicians, activists, celebrities, and late-night hosts to hold on to hope.  We must continue to speak up for those who do not have a voice but we cannot stoop to the level of the haters.  We must sort through the madness and appeal to the good in each person.  It is so easy live in fear and point fingers but we must stop and let sanity prevail. This is good advice to remember for pretty much everything in life. 

Even head lice.

A lot of commenters who weigh in on this blog spend a considerable amount of energy on being upset with the people that they feel gave them the head lice.  They are either mad at their child's school for not adopting a no-nit policy, or they are mad at the parents of their child's friend who they don't feel is dealing with their child's head lice effectively, or they are mad at the roommate/family member who will not allow them to check their head for lice. They get furious because now they feel they have to ban their child from going to their friend's house, or they feel they now have to put their child's hair up whenever they go to school, or they have to avoid sitting on THAT couch.  It's bad enough that their own head lice is taking up their time and energy - now they feel they have to change their life because someone else isn't changing theirs in dealing with their head lice.

I get it.  Head lice sucks.  And resentment can easily build when you think that you are the only one taking the problem seriously.

But before you go and have a stern talk with that person that you think is not being responsible about their head lice problem, please consider a few things.

Regarding schools, no-nit policies do not reduce the number of cases of head lice. They just don't.  Because nobody goes looking for lice and nits until the itch starts.  And if a child has not had head lice before, they might not even see or feel anything until they've had lice for 3 months or so.  So, even when no one thinks head lice is in the class, it may already be there. I know that some of you wish that we had school nurses who checked everyone for head lice every week, but seriously, that would just be a huge waste of resources. Parents can check their own kids. We need schools to be spending money on education and health authorities to be spending more money on things that actually address real health problems (By the way, I'm all for vaccinations!)

And what about that friend/cousin/study buddy/soccer coach that you are certain gave your child head lice.  You may be enraged at them but unless you saw that person pull a live louse off of their head and drop it on your child's scalp saying "Mwahahaha!" with an evil grin, you cannot be sure that they gave your child head lice, or that they even have it (unless they tell you).   And if you know they have lice, do you think they wanted it?  They are not spreading it on purpose and they want to be rid of it as much as you do and just because you can't see them dealing with it, that doesn't mean that they aren't.  And if they swear that they don't have it, what are you gonna do?  Tackle them and give them a combing?  Will that make your own lice go away any faster?

When I was a child, I never got head lice.  But now almost everyone I know has their own head lice story.  People don't get head lice because they are dirty or spread it because they are neglectful.  Head lice happens where humans connect and regardless of who gave it to you, the only thing you can control is your own actions.

And I hope your actions are kind.  Let your child go to his friend's house.  Don't freak out if your roommate sits in your chair.  Don't cancel those soccer practices.  Head lice are a bother, for sure, but not a health issue and the melt down doesn't come from the bug - it comes from the energy we spend on frenzied cleaning and angry paranoia.  If you've changed your whole routine because of head lice, that's on you, not on the bug or your neighbour.  You don't have to comb for 6 hours straight because you are not going to get it out in one sitting anyway.  You don't have to clean from morning to night because that doesn't affect your head lice problem at all.  When faced with the challenge of head lice, practice mindfulness - control your emotions and give grace to yourself and others.  If you think your problem may have come from someone you know, gather up all the love, patience, and humour you have and start a accepting conversation.  If they aren't ready for it, don't be defensive - wish them well and let them know you're their for them should they change their minds.

Let love trump hate in every area, even when dealing with these bugs. Together, can we beat head lice?  Yes, we can!