Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Who Knew? An Addendum to This Whole Lice Business

My children and others at their learning center have been engaged in a battle with lice which inspired me to write about managing them in my latest post. Unfortunately, this time around, my son wasn't able to return immediately to school nit free. He's older now, less compliant and has a sensory processing disorder, which makes it particularly difficult to comb the lifeless remains of hatched eggs from his head.

So, I've been home with him and my interest in lice has deepened. I've sat with the issue long enough that I'm in my esoteric thinking phase now. That's right. When some parents have to sit with the lice issue, they begin to feel phantom itches everywhere from their toes to their eyeballs. (And, hey. No shame in that. I've been that parent too.) Now, though, I find myself wondering things like:
  • What exactly is the purpose lice serve—you know, as part of the ecosystem?
  • And what exactly do they symbolize? I mean, spiders are said to represent creativity and weaving fate. What about lice?
  • Finally, is there some kind of lesson in this for me? Can I apply my recent lice experience to my life in some larger way—now that my own head is no longer itching & I'm mainly just focused on oiling and combing my son's hair?
I've found some answers compelling enough to share. As it turns out . . . .
  1. Lice can be good for you! Specifically, there's some evidence they counterbalance a hyper-active immune system and lessen the risk of developing autoimmune disorders later in life. (More on that here.)
  2. Lice symbolize becoming over burdened and needing to rest, reflect and let go of responsibilities which do not serve you. You are either being given more than you can handle, or are asking others for more than they can give. While there's not immediate danger in this, it is a situation which needs to change and is within your control, overwhelming though it seems. (Thank you, Spirit Walk Ministry, for that woo-woo wisdom.)
  3. Lice are political! Or rather, the general attitude toward their management is political. In her very funny story about contracting lice from her daughter (which I highly recommend you read here), Emily Yoffe explains the politics of lice management like this:

One side says the only way to contain this epidemic is through vigorous enforcement of a "no-nits-left-behind" policy. The other says lice are just a nuisance that don't require a child being excluded from school until clear of them. Among the live-and-let-lice school are both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Harvard School of Public Health.

"[T]he no-nits policies are imprudent, as they are based on intolerance, hysteria and misinformation," says [Harvard's website]. . . [Harvard's website] says fear of lice-borne disease in the past caused "atrocious and perverse campaigns to quarantine and assault unpopular ethnic groups suspected of promoting risk" and that sending home supposedly, or even actually, infested children today is a vestige of those times.

Whoa. Heavy, right?

It's uncanny how Harvard's assessment of lice also makes me think of marijuana prohibition. You may go right ahead and say that marijuana prohibition is ANOTHER imprudent policy based on intolerance, hysteria and misinformation, which has ALSO caused atrocious and perverse campaigns to quarantine and assault unpopular ethnic groups. . . . Yeah. I am a NORMLMom, and I did just totally go there.

Getting back to the lice themselves though—what's my message? Perspective. I need to adjust mine and then move steadily forward.

To conclude, Amanda Greene wrote an excellent and concise article for Woman's Day called "10 Things You Didn't Know about Head Lice." If the main thing you need perspective on is the lice themselves, this one's for you.

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