(Reposted from our archives, since an Au Pair Asked…)
When I became a mom I knew that that I would need to become accustomed to dealing with things that, pre-motherhood, had completely grossed me out. I’m talking about poopy diapers, vomit, bloody noses, fart jokes, and public belching.
These were things that I would have to deal with, gross or not, because I was “the mom”. The one in charge. The person with answers. The person with strategies for everything. Except for the things that I never imagined I’d have to deal with … like lice.
Lice are one of those ‘creepy, crawly, contagious things’ that completely gross me out.
Whenever we would get those flyers from the pre-K or the YMCA day camp telling us that some little one at school or camp had head lice and that we all needed to check our kids, I’d shudder at the suggestion. Then, I’d toss the flyers in the trash, and congratulate myself that these gross little things would never, ever find their way home on my daughters’ heads.
The universe guffawed at my naiveté.
And then, during what seemed to be a never ending barrage of head lice handouts, I finally got the call from the school nurse. One of my girlies had to be sent home for “treatment”.
If you’ve ever read those handouts from the pre-K (you don’t just toss them out, do you?) you’d know that if one person in the household has head lice, you can pretty much assume everyone else does too.
That includes you Mom. And yes, that includes your Au Pair.
So how do you tell your au pair that she might have creepy, crawly, contagious, impossible to get rid of bugs in her hair, all because she snuggles with your child when they read books or watch a video together?
How do you get her to use the stinky harsh lice shampoo, not once but several times, after she’s colored her hair so often that she’s afraid another Garnier Nutrisse will cause it all to break off? And, how do you get her to sit there in the kitchen for two hours, while you comb and pick through her whole head?
Talk about up close and personal …
How do you get her to wash every single thing in her room? (Hint: you do that yourself.)
How do you convince your Au Pair that the lice aren’t your fault, or your kids’ fault, or your dog’s fault, when you feel totally ashamed anyway?
None of this was easy. I tried to think of it as a learning experience.
Several rounds of lice shampoo, combing, olive oil nightcaps, and laundry madness did nothing but test my self-composure and my creepy crawly endurance.
Finally, I admitted that not even Her Mom-ness, myself, could treat the situation effectively with over the counter, at-home remedies.
I broke down and called a professional, one of those women who come to your house, puts on a magnifying eyeshade, and gets down to the dirty business. For around $200 per person.
Let me just say that was $800 I would rather have spent some other way. (I economized by asking my husband to get a supershort SuperCut.)
Let me also say: If When your family is attacked by creepy crawly, contagious things, do the the right thing and include your au pair in the ‘professional treatment plan’.
While neither you nor she can think of that $200 treatment as a bonus, a gift, or a tip, you can think of it as one important time that you treat your au pair like a full fledged member of the family.
After all, the creepy crawly things did.