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Fried Lice For Mother’s Day

May 11, 2009

“Mom, ya know, what could be a better mother’s day than this? A nice head massage, a bath, someone washing your hair…..” I laughed to myself. My daughter was saying this to me, as I washed her hair, having just spent more than an hour “massaging” oil into her scalp to pick out absolutely countless head lice and nit sacks. (This, in case you were wondering, is the genesis of the phrase nit picking – finding itty bitty little things and meticulously harping on them.)

Yes, a massage and new-do would indeed be a fabulous mother’s day!

But, I wouldn’t trade an hour or so of nit-picking for anything. For more than an hour, she and I sat together, in relative stillness and talked. Her (incredibly thick and golden) hair spilled over my lap and my fingers stroked her scalp with precision and love. I can’t remember the last time she had her head in my lap for that long…  (Yes I can, actually, and there were lice involved then, too.) One section at a time, we douse her hair with olive oil, killing lice in their tracks, and loosening up the nit sacks so that they come out with the comb.

I am reminded how lucky I am to have this child, this amazing girl who loves and trusts me to guide her through life until she is on her “own.” This firebrand of creativity and power who is willingly limp in my lap to be loved and cared for. I am her mother, after all.

With a head full of oil, we head to the bathroom to “dry” her hair with the hottest possible setting on the hair dryer – they can’t take the heat, die quickly. “We’re frying them, mom.” “Yup.” “In all that oil, deep fried lice. Yum!”

I am reminded how much I love her sense of humor. She’s smart and witty – and has a truly sardonic sense of humor. She loves Monty Python as much as I do.

Next step, the bathtub, to try and wash out the oil – that’ll take a few tries. Her body is still all little girl. Thank goodness. But at the same time, it is so much like mine – she has my broad shoulders, my butt exactly, my toes, my fingers….  (and the freckles I always wanted but do not have.) Her narrative continues and I tune in and out, I’m not sure exactly what she was saying the whole time she was talking (she is always talking) but I do know that her aimless chatter anchors me in a way that I can’t explain.

“Mom, ya know, what could be a better mother’s day than this? A nice head massage, a bath, someone washing your hair…..”

I take that as gratitude. She doesn’t realize the irony that I am the one “working” and not “receiving.” Nor does she realize that her unspoken gratitude is the thing we most want and need. At least I do. I don’t need cards or gifts or fancy dinners, I just need the people I love and care for to be glad that I love and care for them.

Got that in spades today.

Curled up in bed with Myles, all three of us and an alternating collection of cats, and watched Groundhog Day. (A perfect movie. Seen it a thousand times and still love it.)

“I don’t get it mom, does he just have to keep trying until he gets it right?” “I think so.” The movie rolls on, and Bill Murray is finally released from the endless loop of February 2nd.  He wakes up at the end of the movie on February 3rd. “So, all he had to do was stop being so crabby, learn how to be nice and do stuff, and then he can move on? Just keep trying ’till you get it right?”

Yes, Celia, that’s it.

Keep going. Keep learning. Keep loving. That’s how we go forward. On to the next day.

Though I’m not sure I want to leave this one behind. I cannot imagine a better mother’s day.

Fried Lice and all.

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