This didn't just happen, did it?

Itch your head. If you are not already doing so, I bet the very mention of the word LICE will make ya want to. I've been in youth ministry awhile. Like full time youth ministry for over 15 years. One thing EVERY #ymwoman has probably dealt with is head lice. The dreaded phone call after a mission trip or after summer camp or after Wednesday night youth group. The phone rings and it's a parent telling you their son or daughter has lice and spent the last several hours in close proximity of your head! Feeling itchy yet? 

Last year I was in the girls bathroom at church along with all of my female youth staff checking each other for head lice. We received one of those phone calls...the obligatory (the super kind yet humiliating for the parent phone call!) notice of exposure to head lice. After checking each other for a lice infestation, all our girl staff ran straight to the beauty supply store for tea tree oil shampoo. We heard it detours lice. They don't like the smell or something. I have no idea if that's true, but SEVERAL moms swear by it.

In the midst of all this moving to Michigan craziness....guess what I don't have time for? Head lice. But yup it SOOO JUST HAPPENED!!! I was snuggling with my 8 year old daughter a few days ago. She was on my lap and I was playing with her hair.  Is that what I think it is? Is there something moving on her head? Is that.....? Noooooooo! After spending two nights at Girl Scout Camp (passing her love bugs around to all her friends!) I knew I had to fess up. I sheepishly called her Girl Scout leader AND the school office to inform them of the exposure. Eeek! No fun! 

One thing REALLY helped me to not freak out, and trust me I REALLY wanted to freak out! What helped me a ton was everyone reassuring this youth leader mama that...
 1) It was no big deal....happens all the time. A part of life. It happens to everyone. 
 2) No one made me or Jenna feel shamed or bad about it. 
 3) Everyone shared their lice stories with me.  No shame. No Fault. No one disowned me or questioned my parenting skills. 

As youth pastors, we WILL have students who will have head lice (and possibly share it with us!). It's important for us to react calmly and reassure parents it's a normal part of life. It's also a good idea to encourage parents to do a lice check BEFORE camps and overnighters. Not to embarrass anyone...that's why it's great for parents to do lice checks at home.  Some camps have mandatory lice checks at camp check-in, which I think is super humiliating. Everyone in one big line waiting for public humiliation!!! No bueno. 

So ya have lice?  
Wondering what to do when you find out a youth group student exposed you and others in your youth ministry to head lice? I have some tips for you.  

1) First of all, chances are high youth group parents do not want to fess up and admit their son or daughter may have exposed you (and everyone else) to head lice. I bet there are some who found out their kid has lice, and never told you (possibly creating a huge outbreak!!)  When a parent informs you about their son or daughter's head lice, THANK THEM! Please make sure to THANK THEM for telling you (so you can check your hair, disinfect youth group sofas and church vans!)

2) Next...Send out a notice (not a big deal!) similar to the ones school nurses send home to let other parents know of the exposure so they can check their child's hair.  Dummy disclaimer: you probably know this already, but just in case you are dumb please keep the letter generic and the identity of the person who has lice confidential! You are informing of exposure to lice. You don't need to give names. Why send a letter home? It's important for parents to check their child's head to avoid an outbreak. Otherwise you might be getting A LOT more phone calls. 

3) Lastly...remember it usually takes direct head to head contact for lice to spread. Lice don't have wings and they can't jump. It takes pretty close contact for lice to spread.  So yes, use the lice spray on those sofas and van seats...but don't freak out. They are not likely to be the source of the problem. See more HERE. 

Did you know...

Did you know that at any point, one to three percent of children in elementary school may have head lice? During an outbreak, that number may be as high as 25 percent. As the school year has started and everyone is back at youth group again, turn to ExpertAdviceOnLice.com for tools and tips on finding, treating, and talking about lice. The Headfirst! Expert panel has the information to arm all parents and youth leaders should they have to battle head lice! Hopefully you won't have to!

I disinfected my house. Treated her hair. Washed the bedding. Bagged the stuffed animals. Checked everyone. Not fun. Nothing I have time for. When does anyone have time for head lice? My head is itching just thinking about it! And on a side note: If you've seen my children at school, church or came over for a playdate recently, my daughter was lice free and the house treated. So don't freak out. Unless you were at girl scout camp perhaps!  

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