Your child has what?!

I’m 23 and I’m a babysitter. Sure, sometimes I worry people will confuse me with a 12 year old girl but I persevere because it pays pretty well, is flexible and a lot of the time involves reading books about fairies and watching tv. Oh yeah, and I actually kind of like it.

Recently I showed up at The House on a typical Saturday night. After I had been there for a few minutes (and after having sat in an upholstered chair already!) I was told that The Kid had had head lice that week…. but it seemed to be gone.

Pause for you to gather your reactions.

Gone? When is lice ever gone? Did you boil all of your bedding, hats, coats, etc? Did you vacuum all your furniture immediately? Is there lice on me right now? Get me the hell out of here!!

And I really did want to leave. But I didn’t. I thought about it. But I didn’t. It was awkward and I didn’t know what to do.

Was I over-reacting? Maybe the lice really was all gone. What would the consequences be if I left? Would their night be ruined? (only a concern if I was over-reacting) Would this make things awkward for mutual friends? Where do I get the money for groceries if I leave? By then I had spent so much time thinking about what to do it was too late. They were gone.

But the truth is if they had given me the option, I would have left. If they had given me an out I would have taken it. Certainly if they had told me ahead of time I wouldn’t have gone.

And that is the problem. Surely there is some responsibility on behalf of the parent to not only deal with the problem, but also to warn everyone of possible infection. The Lice Call is likely a little awkward, but tough luck!

Because even worse than actually catching lice myself would have been having to call the 7 dinner guests that I was expecting the following night to cancel the party I had spent the week planning, or calling my boss on Monday saying I can’t come to work [in your house] because I have an infestation on my head.

As it turns out (thankfully!) I DID NOT catch the lice! To be sure though, I had my boyfriend search my head the following day. Romantic, I know.

But the situation was unfair. I paid my dues to the lice world as a child. I have the not-so-fond memories of being 8 and having my step-mother collecting sheets off all 8 beds to sanitize in the washing machine, and the lice checks in the office at school which surely traumatized any child who was sent home in front of their classmates.

I’m 23. I don’t expect any babies in my life for several years still. This is the period of time in my life when I should be completely unaware of the existence of lice. My time will come again, and I might have to make That Call, but until then keep your lice to yourself.


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