You, undoubtedly, have read or heard about parents who develop momentary superhuman strength to be able to free their trapped children by dead lifting tractor-trailers or Thomas Pynchon novels. Yet in this instance, I am simply unable to simultaneously grab the receiver before my boy hangs up and Google "lice."
After a good guttural scream normally reserved for Mets' bullpen collapses and phone calls from my Mom (after she's been put on mute, of course), I ring the school. Meanwhile, images like these flood my computer screen:
(Have you developed phantom itches yet? Don't worry, you will. Keep reading.)
The school receptionist says Thing 2 has left the office. Nice. My boy is undoubtedly rubbing his creepy crawly head against every finger painting and essay on Martin Luther King Jr. on display in the hallways at this moment.
Maybe this will make it easier for me to beg out of the spring bake sale?
"Could you track him down and have him call me back. Kinda important," I tell to her.
I run upstairs and strip the sheets off the bed. My bed. The one the little parasite-toter staggered into about 3 a.m. I hope I have bleach. Or a gallon of Tabasco. Could I Ben Gay the bastards?
The phone rings.
"Little Dude, don't move," I say. "Do. Not. Move. Do not touch anything or anybody. I will be there in five minutes."
When I arrive, he's seated in the front office. He's wearing a Corbin Blue concert T-shirt, coat on his lap, Spider-Man backpack at his feet, his face red and glowing with sweat.
But he's very, deathly, still.
"Grab your stuff. Quickly."
We make it to the Minivan of Manliness, missing the villagers wielding torches and cans of Raid.
"Dad, why is there a garbage bag on my car seat?"
"Hold on," I say, "I've got one for you to slip over your entire body."
Once home, I consider dangling him by the ankles into the icy heap remaining on my porch from other day's snowfall. That is not a recommended treatment for lice, but Thing 2 doesn't know that and it would definitely improve my disposition.
Instead, I sit him down at the kitchen counter, fire up a 500-watt halogen light from my workshop and start scrutinizing every strand of hair on his oversize blond head.
Not a flake of dandruff nor even a stray green clover or blue moon marshmallow from breakfast.
"Does your head itch anymore?"
"No. It feels fine."
"What the Donavon Frankenreiter? Was this all a scam so you could come home early and play more Nintendo DS?"
Then it hits me.
"When was the last time you showered?"
"I don't know."
"Were you at recess right before your head started itching?"
I take him upstairs and start the shower. While I fetch the shampoo and conditioner, Mr. Monk will fill you in:
Now, smelling of coconut Sauvé, I help Thing 2 towel dry. I kneel and look him squarely in the eye.
"Dude, I don't want you to be the stinky kid at school that no one plays with and everyone makes fun of. You need to shower at least twice a week. And, for crying out loud, we've had this talk before, put on clean underwear and socks every morning. Recycling is not an option for underclothes."
"OK, Dad. I love you."
He didn't say the last three words. But I'm hoping he'll realize the need to someday.