There are few things that mothers fear more than lice infestations. The mere thought of one can send us running for the shower to scald the image out of our brains. Some of you have been lucky enough to never have to deal with creepy crawlies on your precious progeny. You might look down on the mothers that have been in the trenches battling the demon scourge plaguing their wee ones. "She must not keep her house very clean." "Don't they ever bathe." "I mean, it isn't that hard to avoid something like that."
I was once like you. I looked down on those poor mothers, who are now my comrades in arms. I would like to apologize for every snide comment, every disgusted look, and every eye roll. I am so sorry. I had no idea. I was living in a fool's paradise. And to those mothers who are reading this and thinking that it won't or can't happen to them, you are wrong. Lice can happen to anyone, any where, any time. I should know. It just happened to me.
Say you are wrestling with your youngest daughter on the couch. Suddenly you pull back in horror as you see something moving in her golden locks. No! It can't be. As you pick her up and take her to the kitchen (holding her at arm's length because ew) you pray to every deity that you have ever heard of that this isn't really happening. But your prayers have been in vain. There are lice in your daughter's hair. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCK FUCK. (Pardon the language. As I am sure the other veterans of the lice war can attest, there is really no other appropriate response.)
Let me tell you, the first thoughts you have are swear words, then the heeby jeebies, and then you just want to shave your head and set yourself on fire. But the best part is calling anyone your children had contact with recently to tell them of their impending doom. "Oh hi, this is Addy's mom. I have to come get her from the sleepover early. Yes, right now. Why? We have lice in the house. . . You might want to get yourself checked out." Or my personal favorite was getting to call my sister (who always seems to have her shit more together than me) because she had been up to visit the week before.
You have just got to be patient and tenacious. Eradicating the demon scourge of lice takes time, determination, and a fine toothed comb. If you find the little bastards on a weekday you can go to the doctor to get some prescription lice medicine. If you find them on a weekend, get thee to the nearest drug store and pick up some lice shampoo and one of the more expensive fine tooth combs. Make sure it has stainless steel teeth.
Once you get home CHECK EVERYONE AND THEN TREAT EVERYONE REGARDLESS OF THE PRESENCE OF LICE. They can be unbelievably hard to see. Comb through every person's hair with the comb. If you want to be super crazy you could do what I did and boil the comb between people. Then recheck and re-comb everyone every day for a week. If you don't see anymore of the little assholes, retreat according to the directions on your package. If you find a live one, RETREAT EVERYONE IMMEDIATELY. Boil your hairbrushes and combs. Wash everything with hot water regardless of color and care guidelines. Dry everything that can be dried without issue. (Don't dry your wool or silk items. Just don't.)
It really can happen to everyone. Lice can get transmitted through a friendly hug, sharing hair brushes, sharing a pillow or blanket, etc. Lice don't discriminate. They aren't choosy. You have hair and delicious blood pumping through your veins? Newsflash! You are a lice smorgasbord!
As to those suspicious looks you are giving to the parents have dealt with this, they are looking at you the same way. As far as they know your kid might have given the lice to their child. There is a healthy dose of paranoia that comes with lice. Where did they come from?!?!? Who is responsible for this?!?!? Assigning blame won't help though. Your kid still has lice no matter where they got it from. Odds are that parent and child are just as grossed out and embarrassed as you are. Since lice can't materialize out of thin air, someone had to have given it to the person that your kid got lice from.
The main thing I didn't expect from this particular parenting battle was the emotional issues that rise from it. My youngest daughter thought I didn't love her anymore because she had bugs in her hair. My middle daughter was in tears because she prides herself on her appearance. Her image of herself got shattered. My oldest daughter thought her best friend wasn't going to like her anymore because of the lice. There were a lot of tears. Some of them were mine. I felt like I had failed them somehow. I had failed the motherhood mission. I couldn't protect my children from this. Worse, I almost didn't want to hug or snuggle with my girls because I didn't want lice. (From what I understand that is pretty normal.)
Just remember that this too shall pass. There's going to be a lot of laundry, work, and tears. You aren't lepers. You just had something bad happen to you. You aren't a bad parent because lice happened. It is part of parenting. Everyone has had a lice scare at some point in their life. Hopefully, it is just a scare. But if it is not, it is going to be ok. You will get through this. I promise.
Here is a helpful link from the CDC on lice.