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The No. 1 One Thing You Need When Your Kid Gets Lice

"I think we should check the kids' heads." My husband leaned over to paw through my son's hair at the breakfast table while I made the lunches. I wasn't worried. We'd gotten dozens of emails over the years from school about lice; they always made me wince with panic, but it always passed us by.

I shrugged my shoulders. "Whatever."

I filtered out the concerned little grunts coming out of my husband's head. My kids didn't have lice and that was that.

Denial wrapped me in her loving arms as I sashayed around the kitchen pitching applesauce and pretzels into open lunchboxes. I was content to spend the rest of day curled up in an alternate reality, one where kids-—especially mine—didn't have bugs in their hair.

PLOP! A little bug fell out of my son's hair and into his yogurt.

"MOM! What's that?"

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Son, that was denial thrusting me out into the bitter cold without so much as a parting kiss.

My husband and I swung into action. We emailed the school, we called in sick to work and raced to the drug store to buy the treatment. We started combing through our kids' hair, strand by strand. I broke a sweat stuffing armfuls of laundry in the washer for a piping hot rinse cycle.

"Is Mom wearing what I think she is?" my children asked, afraid of what was happening to their mother.

As anxiety coursed through my veins, I snipped at my husband and snapped the kids. My stress level was so high that I stopped making jokes. Inconceivably, I combed all through both kids' hair without making a single joke about Donald Trump!

Humor has been a lifeline for me during the hardest parts of motherhood. If I abandoned it now, in my deepest hour of need, then the lice were going win. Maybe they'd already won.

I couldn't let that happen.

But there's nothing funny about lice. Anyone can see the humor in explosive diarrhea during a baptism or having leaky breasts during job interview. But having a house full of nits and critters who lay a billion eggs a second? It's just not humorous.

Fourteen hours into my career as a Mother of Children With Lice, I'd yet to crack a smile. I'd cried to my mother four states away, done seven loads of laundry, and inspected hundreds of strands of hair. But laugh? It was too soon.

Right before bed, a friend and lice survivor called to tell me that I should rub my scalp with olive oil and sleep in a shower cap. As soon as I hung up, I doused myself with EVOO. I was Rachel Ray and my head was a bowl of rosemary potatoes. But I had no shower cap. Yes, I had a scalp that smelled like focaccia bread, but no way to get in bed without ruining my pillows and mattress.

Tears stalked my eyelids. Was this horrible day ever going to end? I fought through the despair. I tried Saran Wrap but it kept slipping off. Tin foil ripped too easily. The oil soaked through a bath towel.

Then, like a long lost friend knocking on the door, my sense of humor swooped in.

"Put some diapers on your head," it said. Who was I to disagree? I arranged two Dora diapers on my head and pranced into the room to show my family.

"Is Mom wearing what I think she is?" my children asked, afraid of what was happening to their mother.

My husband pressed his palm to my greasy forehead to see if I was delirious with fever. "You can't be serious with this, are you?"

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Serious? Of course I was serious! That's what I'd been all day. The school nurse told us that we had to be serious if we want to win the Lice War. Oh, I was serious all right, but I was finally willing to have a little fun. This was a way to win at lice.

I would lead my family to victory with two oily diapers on my head with my secret weapon: my sense of humor.

Photograph by: Christie Tate

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