Let’s talk about LICE, Baby! 

So, as you can see, our last two weeks have been an adventure! Is your head itching yet? Not kidding at all! Strep last week, lice this week, feeling like the plague may be next.

Since last Friday, I have looked like this, every day, for over an hour a day:

monkey nitpicking

We’ve isolated the kids for an entire weekend, though only one of three had it. We kept people out of our house, though thankfully, we could blame it on strep.  I washed all sheets, clothes, coats, pillows,  and more, every day since last Friday. What we did for one, we did for all, just in case, so yes – that’s 5 beds stripped (thanks to bunk beds in one room), 5 heads combed, and more…just in case. We even shaved a 2-year old’s beautiful surfer blond shag, while I cried, as a precaution, since it was easier to work through the combing process.  When I realized that I couldn’t get all the nits out on my own, we even took the extra precaution of going to a professional service, just in case.

The simple truth is that lice happens to everyone, and it happens in bunches, and there’s not a damn thing that you can do about it. Schools don’t know what to do, parents don’t know what to say, and through simple silence, it spreads and spreads and spreads.  It spreads through shared hairbrushes or barrettes, through shared baseball caps or helmets, or even through something as simple as a hug. Has your kid ever done this?

The head hug?

Here’s what I’ve learned through this fascinating ordeal:

  • Lice Just Happens:  You really can’t do anything to stop it.  You can spend a fortune on prevention, but under the “right” circumstances, those pesky buggers are going to find a way on little heads.  There’s no truly effective policy on lice in schools.  Professional services (who average about $150/session) firmly recommend “nit-free” policies. Yet, the CDC and American Pediatric Association have strongly communicated that “nit-free” policies do not stop the spread of lice and are disruptive, embarrassing, and isolating to the kids.  They feel treatment and maintenence (the follow through after treatment) is generally sufficient.
  • Speak up!!!! – The reason lice spreads so quickly to so many kids is because no one wants to admit they have it.  Parents will quietly treat what they can, hope it’s gone, and not admit when they need help. The stigma – that automatic step away from a family dealing with it – is horrible.  So since you feel like you can’t talk or ask others for advice, you can’t learn from others and may unknowingly be infesting others if you didn’t quite get your kid clean the first time.
  • Use the School Megaphone – Schools may send a notice to parents in one class, but kids don’t play in isolation!  In our school, multiple classes recess together which mean there are multiple ways to spread lice from class to class. This lovely nuisance also spreads within families, so for multi-child families, you literally are playing the odds if you think the other kids won’t get it. Our school has been dealing with this issue for over a month, as it spread from class to class, but in isolation, no one knew the extent or continued existence of lice in the school. They have finally sent a broader notice since it has been found in multiple classrooms, but at this point, who knows the final count.
  • Check That Head! – If you see a notice from school, or hear from another parent, CHECK YOUR KIDS’ HAIR!!!! Buy one of those fine-tooth combs, look for a nit or two. If you find something, you are more than entitled to have one of those moments of total, gagging, freak out, hysterical giggling/crying. Then, take care of it. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to treat.
  •  Oh, and CHECK YOUR HEAD! – ‘Cause, yes. My name is Diana, and I had a lovely case of “mom” lice, as the professional nitpicker (seriously, that’s their professional name) checked me JUST IN CASE.
  • It really takes a week or more – One of the main reasons why people insist OTC remedies don’t work is because they don’t follow through with checking/combing out the nits that are left after the first treatment. Even professional service companies will only guarantee their work IF you then continue to comb the kids’ hair for 7 to 10 days after they see you. OTC remedies kill the live bugs, but the nits (the little eggs) that remain, can still hatch and then grow into adults, causing continued trouble.
  • You will survive –  I can safely say, one full week after doctors AND professional services confirmed that we are not contagious, that you will survive lice.  Really, you will!  You got this, and you are not alone!

So have fun itching your head.  Because reading about lice will likely leave you scratching your head, and when it doubt, check that head! Check that head! (Queue the music for “Shake it off” by Taylor Swift.)

The Magic of Dr. Seuss – A Diffendoofer Day to You Too!

suess_diffendoofer

Dr. Seuss has always been special. There is a magic to his books, the stories, the artwork, that truly transcend time. That’s what makes an exceptional book – for kids or adults, right? A story that can be just as enjoyable and meaningful regardless of when and by whom it is read.  I just learned last night that yesterday was the anniversary of his death after happening on a great article about his best book quotes. In memory of Dr. Seuss, I thought I’d share a little Sheehan family Seuss story.

This week, we rediscovered “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!” My two oldest kids love this book, and every few months, it becomes part of the “cycle” in bed-time reading. We’ve transitioned from Mom and Dad reading it to them reading it, but the joy at the end is always the same.

Ironically, this is one of those books that isn’t well-known. It almost wasn’t even published. In fact, it’s a book that is only part Dr. Seuss. It’s a book about schools, and teachers, and celebrates that being different is exceptional. Based on the publisher notes at the end of the story, Dr. Seuss wasn’t sure about publishing it but he shared the idea with his editor and then left it be. After he died in 1991, his long-term editor asked to see his notes on the “teacher” idea. While the story wasn’t complete, with permission from his family and help from two other authors, they completed the book.

His lead – Miss Bonkers – is crazy and amazing and fun and silly. She and her fellow teachers teach their kids to be creative and to think in a unique way, yet they learn their ABCs and 123s too.  At its core, this book is about teachers and students and the true power that comes from enabling students to think on their own, even when their style is different.

My life has been influenced so often by teachers. My mom was a teacher, and my sister is a teacher now. I am not sure if I would ever have made it to college without the push of the amazing teachers at my junior high and high school in Banquete, Texas. I’ve seen my children blossom into something that my husband and I could never have fostered on our own thanks to the teachers they have had thus far, even starting in pre-school.

The best part about this story is that this book did not come into our home the way most books do, as gifts or from trips to the bookstore. I was given the book over a decade ago, as a corporate “thank you” for helping to start a Diversity Council at my company. Just like the classic graduation gift book – “Oh The Places You Will Go” – this book speaks to so much more than silly words and stories.

Teachers change lives. They make the world a better place.  And, being different, being a bit unique, is fantastic and amazing! Embrace your Diffendooferness, because for teachers and students alike, that is what makes you special in every way.

In honor of Dr. Seuss, what’s your favorite Seuss moment or book?

How Long Can 1st Grade Homework Take…Really?

Homework picture

After a solid month under our belts of  back-to-school, the homework process has started to solidify.  By solidify, I don’t actually mean get structured, organized, better, etc. I mean my kids have very solidly come to decide that they HATE homework 90% of the time.

Note, I am not a teacher. I am also the ridiculous nerd that loved school and homework all through K-12. College was a different story, but I blame that on the misconception that I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer. I look at their homework, know that they can do it, and struggle to understand why something that they can complete in 10 to 15 minutes (literally, the teacher said 10 minutes) takes over 90 minutes.  I found a clock online that illustrates my kids’ opinion of homework all the time!

www.zazzle.ca-
http://www.zazzle.ca-

My kids are smart kids. They can do the work sent home. We’ve dealt with mild developmental delays for years with both kids – speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. I want to emphasize that I understand when my kids are struggling and when they are procrastinating. When they are struggling, we help! When they are procrastinating, the ownership falls on them – even if they are 6 and 8. We do scheduled homework time. The kids get it done – groaning and moaning the whole time.  I check-in, but let them own the work the way their teachers do. We have even added it as a “chore” on their chore board.  I just wish it were easier…for all of us!

Ironically, I have come to appreciate the ingenuity with which they procrastinate. I truly believe that creativity will serve them later in life.

Thought I’d share our Top 15 Ways to Secretly Make Homework Last Longer…

  1. I Gotta Go To the Bathroom (assume 10 random trips to said bathroom in one hour between two children)
  2. I am STARVING (after multiple bowls of Veggie Straws or Goldfish)
  3. My Shirt Itches Me, I Have to Change (three changes of clothes later…)
  4. The Cat Scratched My Homework (what??? seriously??? you were petting the cat ON the table)
  5. My Pencil Broke
  6. My Eraser Broke
  7. My Paper Broke
  8. Gemma/Payton Is Bothering Me
  9. The Teacher Said I Don’t Need to Put My Name On It / Draw The Math Boxes / Do That 1 Problem I Skipped
  10. It’s Hot/Cold/Wet…. Inside
  11. I Read My Book….Anywhere You Didn’t See Me
  12. I Don’t Know When It is Due
  13. Everyone Else Is Playing
  14. The Cat/Dog is Staring at Me
  15. I DON’T WANNA DO MY HOMEWORK TODAY

How about you? Any good procrastination stories? I am assuming I’m not alone.