The End of Innocence

I turned 40 in December. It wasn’t an easy transition. My father passed away when he was 41 and left my mother a widow at 39. I had all sorts of anxiety about nearing the number of doom. I was pretty certain I was going to have some disease or maybe wake up with wrinkles all over my face and body. There was even the possibility of another awesome body change, much like the one that occurred when I turned 30, even though I weighed the same. Then there was the whole other aspect of just time passing so fast. Caleb would soon go to kindergarten, then Michael would take off for college and Evan would soon be ruling the world and leaving Eric and me in some retirement community in Florida and nobody would ever come see us.

All because I was turning 40.

The big 4-0.

Nothing could have prepared me for what would happen as I turned 40.


My birthday was on a Monday. I had new clothes and new boots. We had gone to dinner the Saturday evening before with the boys and my mom. It was lovely.

Now as I look back on that weekend, as I look back at through the photos from that dinner, I don’t remember the fun. The dinner. The new blouse and the cake I ate. I only see one thing.

A blissfully ignorant (young looking, might I add) woman. Unscathed by the evil world that she would soon be thrown into, not 6 days later.

You see, while we were all enjoying our wonderful feast, something sinister was happening in my head.

Lice were procreating at an astounding rate.

Yes. I said the L word.

I got lice for my 40th birthday. From one of my children. In the interest of his feelings, he told everyone he had it. He got it from school, it is old news apparently. He was 100% ok with this blog.

I could go through the events leading up to that fateful Friday morning and it all seems so clear now.  All the missed signs. But HOW can you look for something and know signs when you have no idea what you are looking for? HOW, I ask.

This was my birthday dinner. Look how happy I was. It's a good thing he is bald.

This was my birthday dinner. Look how happy I was. It’s a good thing he is bald.


My life has changed in so many ways since we went through this. That week was terrible. I did four different lice treatments in six days, shaved one man child’s head, went through 1 1/2 bottles of tea tree oil, treated two heads that did not have lice, spent about $150, vacuumed about 300,000,000 times and either laundered all the items of clothing in our house or put them in trash bags in the garage. For a month.

I learned some things throughout this ordeal:

  1. I am all for organic things. I have a garden. I use essential oils. I’ve even had acupuncture for crying out loud. But when it comes to bugs living in my hair, I’m all for pesticides.  The bottle says leave it on no longer than ten minutes to kill those little buggers? Then we start at ten and maybe go twenty minutes. Don’t use any other treatments sooner than seven days? Um, no. Maybe they didn’t get the message that there are BUGS residing on my hair. They need to be evicted STAT using any and every form of eradication possible.
  2. The boys and I will always be easy to spot at the movies, on a train or plane, or any place we will be sitting and leaning our heads back. We will be the ones in hoodies. Even on leather seats. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, man.
  3. If anyone is caught scratching their head, they are immediately subject to interrogation and head checks. Caleb usually responds with, “mom, we are OVER this!!”
  4. I can never cook with coconut oil again. After I heated it as hot as I could possibly stand it and left it on my head for hours, the smell nauseates me. That kind of makes me sad.
  5. I still am very aware of hair to hair contact. Even with, especially with, my children.
  6. My man is an extraordinary knit*  picker. I will admit,  before when I imagined the horror of our household encountering this pandemic, I worried about who would extract the nastiness from my head because “how in the world would he understand the gravity of such a situation”. Well, he understood. That man stood there three times a day for  a week to comb through my hair. He was so amazing about it. He would reel me off the ledge when the crazy took over. He insists that he does not want to be known for his “knit* pickin’ skills”, but I say give credit where credit is due. There is no pre-marital counselling on how to handle this and I would wager to say that I was not at my sexiest during that particular adventure. He still passed the test with a resounding A.

I feel like a small amount of innocence died on that December 18. Now I look around and wonder how people do not constantly get lice.

My kids absolutely freak out if a friend puts on one of their dress up masks or play hats. We do not sit in the seats at the doctor’s office. I have it on good authority that they see many cases of lice there. The seats are not leather.


One week post eviction. We may be smiling, but there’s a darkness behind the smiles.

Someday we may be “normal” again. I don’t even know if we want to be. It’s been a lesson I am not sure I wanted to learn. However, all the other things I worried about with 40 did not happen, so I suppose I have THAT.


* Eric read my blog the day after I posted it and he informed me that knit is not correct. It is nit………Proof of point 6. Nit picking king.

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