Ahh . . . nothing like baseball on a summer day. Absorbing the rays as the sun toasted my freckled skin the color of a bran muffin. No, I wasn’t crazy or athletic enough to run around bases and work up a sweat in eighty degree weather; I relaxed on the metal bleachers in the shade, chatted with other mothers and watched my twelve year-old son, Jack, play ball in sticky baseball pants and a heat-absorbing red shirt.
All was pleasant until Marcy sat down and announced that her friend’s friend’s son had lice and had shared baseball hats with her son. He gave lice to his friend who gave it to Marcy’s son, Dillon, at a sleep-over. You can see where this is going. Jack slept over Dillon’s house last week-end, so . . .
No, Jack couldn’t have lice . . . he has wavy shoulder length hair with surfer highlights. Gorgeous, messy hair. Too much hair. No way!
Marcy, an elementary school teacher, handed us dittos titled, “How to Treat Lice” and enhanced by an intimate photo of a louse and its egg. “I hope you ladies check your sons’ hair tonight. The boys have been playing ball with Dillon all week.”
Did my face look horrified like the other moms listening to Marcy?
“How did you know Dillon had lice?”
“By the time I found out about his friend, Dillon was infested.” Marcy confessed.
Oh no! Tingles wiggled down to my toes.
She continued. “The nits look like teeny-tiny light brown teardrops. You can flick dandruff flakes off, but the eggs are laid on the base of the hair shaft. You have to pull them off each hair strand.”
Jack hit a home-run, but I couldn’t cheer; lice have a way of ruining a good time. Jack took off his helmet and passed it to the next batter. Oh my. What if? The whole team—ugh!
I breathed deeply. Don’t panic; you don’t even know if he has lice. But what if he does? Then his brothers and little sister might . . . but God says He won’t give us more than we can handle. Five kids with lice—well, that’s more.
Marcy proceeded to tell us the natural way to liberate the critters—
“Tea tree oil and baby oil to smother them under a shower cap every night; an hour of fine-tooth hair combing—and I mean each strand; scrub every inch of your house; wash all clothes; and strip every bed.” Marcy wore the brave face of an expert.
One mom asked, “Did you get rid of them?”
“Almost. I’ve treated him for two days and still find nits on him . . . but no more than eight. He’s not infested anymore.”
The moms turned heads toward the dugout like synchronized swimmers. Our boys sat inches apart from Dillon, tossing hats around.
Oh, great! They’re helping lice travel.
Marcy didn’t have to read minds. “Dillon brought his own helmet and he promised to keep his hat on.”
My stomach turned as I remembered—next weekend we had plans to visit my sister’s farm. We couldn’t bring cooties. And if all my kids got lice, I’d be combing hair for five hours every day. Please, no. I thought my homeschooled kids were exempt from lice.
Marcy must have noticed my fear because she patted my back and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll come over after the game and check Jack’s hair. I’ve become an expert at finding nits.”
“Okay,” I said, thankful for her strange talent. At least I’d know for sure.
Jack sat on our front steps with his head upside-down, his waves cascading over his knees. Marcy combed her graceful fingers through his hair, parting sections like a hairdresser. What would my neighbors think?
With her thumb and index finger, Marcy stretched a few strands of hair away from the rest and glided her fingers to the end.
“Wh-what’s wrong?” Jack’s tough pre-teen voice quivered.
As my toddler loved to show me her training potty business, Marcy held out her hand with a speck in the middle like it was a diamond.
Author’s note: loosely based on a truly “eeky” summer.
But God can use anything for good—even cooties. That summer, Jack and I had daily hours of quality “inspecting” time. I became a pro at nit-searching and helped other mothers in their time of lice.
Even four years later, if my kids scratch, I inspect.
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