The 8 Stages of Lice For Parents

lice image 1Welcome! It’s so lice to meet you. As a mother of six parasite-prone children, I have tons of lice experience. In fact, I’m just itching to show off my “lousy” resume and if necessary, I can supply three nitwits err personal references too. Letter of recommendation? You betcha! I’ve got a truly hair-raising one written by a nymph, (an immature, teenage louse) herself. And believe me when I say that’s just the tip of the liceberg.

But I’ll spare you all of that and simply invite you to stick around these parts for humor, support, and some calming reassurance that you’re never alone with the lice. That’s right, I’m always in your corner and we’ll get through this together because you know what they say? “Nit’s a small world, after all!”

As an initial way to cope, think back to Psych 101 class, where you learned about the Five Stages of Loss & Grief. (Quick refresher —  1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance.)

Now brace yourself because here’s my version with a licey twist!

  1. SHATTERED INNOCENCE: (The Warning Signs!) Official-looking lice notices fly (even though lice cannot fly!) all around school. You walk in on the tail end of a conversation between two moms using the “L” word in hushed tones. Throats clear. “Uh, we meant ‘sLice,’ as in pizza day.” Seriously? The weekend slumber party circulates ghost stories about eggs lodged in a popular child’s hair that are more chilling than chanting, “Bloody Mary” three times in the mirror. And finally, that fateful episode where Muffy contracts lice on the popular animated children’s series Arthur, airs three times in one week. Ominous foreshadowing? Perhaps.
  2. DENIAL: (The Disowning Thoughts!) 1. My little boy’s allergies sure are acting up, must be a reaction to that new hair gel. Lemme take a closer look, (gasp!) “Tell me sweetheart, did you by chance participate in a fun craft project in school today with glitter that resembles poppy or sesame seeds?!” 2. Lice is something that only happens to other families or Pam What’s-Her-Face on that hit show, The Office. 3. I’m a good mother, wife, housekeeper, laundress, hygiene-instiller, Girl Scout leader, (fill-in-the-blank as you grasp for straws) and I buy all organic produce . . . so it simply cannot be lice. 4.  It’s dandruff, dammit. And that’s final.
  3. BARGAINING: (The Deals!) Please. Can it just be dandruff? If you let it be dandruff, I’ll volunteer as Room-Mother at school AND I’ll drive all the field trips. Okay, I’ll also become the art assistant. Absolutely, I’ll totally give up my “eating the jar of Nutella with a spoon” habit. Cold turkey. Honest engine. And I’ll stop complaining about having to buy knock-off designer purses at Target if you just let me wake up and discover that these Super Lice are a bad dream.
  4. TERROR: (The Faulty Assumptions!) Life as I know it, is officially over. We’ll be branded with Scarlet L’s on our chests forever. Nobody will ever hug us again. All the moms will think we’re the ones who started it. And Eeek! Bugs are everywhere – – our car seats, the sofa, inside Cheerios cartons, they’ve burrowed into our drywall, and our shag carpets are literally teeming with them. OMG. Did I just use the word “teeming?” Who even says that??
  5. ANGER: (The Ranting!) It was that weirdly dressed kid at school whose mother is an Avon Lady and still throws Tupperware parties, I just know it. Don’t even think about watching TV in the lice-free common area formally known as our family room! You’re gonna stay isolated in that bathtub for three whole hours while I pour ingredients typically found in a Cobb salad onto your scalp. Forget the washing machine … let’s trash all our linens and clothes. Are you certain we’re current on our homeowner’s insurance premiums, Dear?  Great. Fetch the box of matches and some kerosene!
  6. SPECIAL CELLPHONE OUTBURST: (Hating On Technology!) Stupid Selfies! Who leans their head right next to their BFF’s long hair 167 times a day to take pictures that will vanish after 10 seconds anyhow? What’s the point? You want to have your likeness touching someone else’s so badly? Cut her face out of the school yearbook with a scissors and paste it next to yours. I remember when we just had cameras and wristwatches. Where were all the lice back in those days??
  7. RELUCTANT ACCEPTANCE: (But No Surrender!) Deep breath. 1. Oh, it’s just a nice, innocent white paper towel . . . with three wriggling, filthy vermin on it. Well that’s living proof, I suppose. 2. I’ve researched online for hours and here’s an interesting tidbit — Did you know in 1100 A.D., a Rabbi proclaimed it was permissible to remove head lice on the Sabbath? Seriously. 3. Guess what? Now I can officially pun with the best of ‘em. Listen to this . . . “I’ve got a new lease on lice” and “No more Mr. Lice guy.” 4. Guess what else? I carried this precious baby for 9 months, labored for 28 hours, and needed an emergency C-section — so if you blood-sucking, beastly, six-legged grotesque organisms think you’re gonna have a piece of her, you’ll have to get thru me first!
  8. POST-LICE PARANOIA: (The Odd Behavior!) Temporary Neat Freaks unite! In this final stage, you’ve even vacuumed the ceilings. And by “you,” I mean your spouse. You hire the little person who played Tangina from the 1982 movie Poltergeist to declare, “This house is clean!”Your daughter is forbidden to play beauty parlor with Katie ever again. If they get bored, they can just French braid each other’s fingers. You say things like, “Nobody needs to sleep with their head on a pillow, it’s bad for the spine.” And you’re constantly shouting, “Kendall! Tell me I didn’t just see you scratching?!”

So there you have it. No matter what stage you’re in, if you’re feeling like it’s a “no-win nituation,” rest assured that countless others have gone through these familiar phases before you. And they all came out just fine, maybe they’re even laughing a bit, in retrospect.

Until next time, I’m Debra Dé Louse reminding you that there can be saNITy around a nit. Just contact Lice Clinics of America — they have guaranteed results, all treatments are non-toxic, and they’re recommended by pediatricians.


Stephanie Debra Lewis AKA “Debra Dé Louse“ is a mother of six, a humorist for The Huffington Post,the author of a novel, “Lullabies & Alibis,” and pens her own blog at