Kind of OT WWYD?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Kind of OT WWYD?
24
Fri, 08-27-2010 - 3:42pm

Hi there. I think I need a little perspective with what's going on. My DH and I are grandparents to an eighteen month old little guy. His mom is my step-daughter (I've been in her life for 9 years...since she was 12yo).

My grandson (20mo) has head lice. I first noticed it (and was the first one to notice it) in February when he was 14mo. I was watching him for my step-daughter who had a job interview that day. I called her when I identified the problem (DH and I were going to be keeping him for longer than her interview) and then I picked out as many of the nits as I could (what a patient little guy he was for grandma).

On our way to drop him off, we picked up some insecticide that the pharmacist said was not only safe for babies/toddlers, but had enough in the bottle for his parents as well. When we got there, I offered to look through their hair to see if they were infested as well, but they refused, saying that they would take care of it themselves.

A little backstory: my step-daughter had issues as a teen with chronic head lice and an unwillingness to participate in the treatment (i.e., sitting while someone picked out the nits), in allowing us to check between outbreaks, and in telling us in a timely manner when she noticed itching and nits. There was also a bio-mom, with whom she lived for 10 months during this time, who would not pick nits, would tell her that we were lying about the lice, and would tell her that our wanting to check her hair periodically was treating her like a "second-class citizen".

Her last infestation before moving out on her own came shortly before her 18th birthday. Her dad handled the nit removal (she and I were barely on speaking terms at that time...during an earlier infestation I spent a week removing nits from her hair, she had literally thousands of nits at that time) and I was never sure whether her hair was rid of them completely.

Ok, back to now. When I last found nits in the little guys hair, I said nothing to anyone. I just felt so sick of being the one to find it (I was always the one to identify it in step-daughter's hair), and to be honest, felt sure that his parents had to know (he's got baby-fine, short hair...he's barely a toddler after all).

The next weekend we all went to a wedding. I made a point to position myself where I could have a discreet, hands-off looksy at her hair. A couple of times when the wind blew the hair around her ears (it was an outdoor wedding), I was sure that I could see nits on the hairs (about 95% sure and I've got an unfortunately very experienced eye for spotting them). It looks like she's the one who's passing on the lice to my grandson (and she has to be aware, but in deep denial, or just hoping that nobody notices...maybe she thinks her boyfriend will dump her if he knows that she's infested...IDK).

So, I said nothing to my DH until about a week later. Still not happy about always being the messenger. I told him that until he's seen nits with his own eyes that I don't want him to mention anything to his daughter or her boyfriend. I just don't want to be involved anymore. The crazy thing is that there are two other sets of grandparents who spend time with my grandson. Do they know? Are they now infested and don't know. There's the million-dollar question.

So for now, when they visit (about twice per month for Sunday dinner, and occasionally DH will pick him up after work and then drive him home before bedtime), DH will help me vacuum the carpets and wipe down the couches (all leather) when they leave. Other than that, there will just be no head-to-head contact with anyone.

Oh, and btw, where I live, lice is not a health issue, so health and social services people would not intervene in any way. Not until he's in first grade (or higher) and missing school due to lice issues (which is years away).

So, any words of advice or wisdom? Would anyone handle this situation differently.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2010
Fri, 08-27-2010 - 5:20pm

Gosh, I don't really have any advice, but hugs to you and your little grandson, bless his heart!! How frustrating! Aside from purchasing the shampoo to rid grandson of the nits, and offering it to SD and her dh, there isn't much else to do about the situation. Hopefully, they will wash all sheets, clothing, stuffed animals etc etc, along with their hair, so it doesn't come back! I've never heard of anyone getting lice as many times as your SD?!


My question is, where is she getting lice from over and over??? I'm so sorry you have to deal with this, and I'm sure she must be aware of her hair situation, especially when the nits start hatching?! *shudder*


Hugs to you!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Fri, 08-27-2010 - 5:30pm

<<>>

Currently, I think she's had lice since she was 18yo (she's 21 now). I don't think that my DH completely rid her of them. If you leave even one viable egg, then it's just a matter of time before being massively re-infested.

When she was 16yo, and living with her mom for 10mo, her mom allowed her to attend school, go to her activities, and go to and host sleepovers. So, it's not a surprise that after I deloused her at the end of that 10mo, that she was re-infested just before her 18th birthday, as she'd likely given it to quite a few of her friends, and who checks their teens hair regularly for lice. Most teens won't be exposed to lice as once they leave elementary school, their next exposure to it will likely come from their own children.

Yeah, I guess there's not much to do about it. Thanks for listening and the hugs, LOL.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2010
Fri, 08-27-2010 - 8:42pm
You're welcome! Yes, I'm not sure what one would do in this case, with her age and such..Hopefully she will be proactive, especially since her baby boy has lice as well. What surprises me the most is when they reach the bug stage, and can be seen she is not embarrassed? Most would be mortified! Or at least I would think so anyway! You are right, it is most associated with elementary school, I remember having it in second or third grade, and my mother combing my hair with a metal comb,
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Fri, 08-27-2010 - 10:21pm

<<>>

Yeah, we'll see what he decides to do if he sees nits in our grandson's hair. It will definitely be better received coming from him than from me. God, my head's itchy, LOL. *sigh*

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-1999
Fri, 08-27-2010 - 11:47pm
Has anyone from her workplace noticed?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Sat, 08-28-2010 - 12:11am
She's a SAHM. Her LIBF, who is grandson's father, has buzzed hair, and so is likely not infested. She has no current plans to work outside of the home until grandson is school-aged.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2008
Sat, 08-28-2010 - 12:51am

EWWWW, now I'm itchy too! Isn't it funny how just thinking about it gets the itchies going?


I can't believe she dosen't know, visible on her son and feeling them herself? I wondered when you said she had them so much though, if someones scalp can get umm, toughened up or something and maybe not feel them? Do they not spread to other hairs, ya know, first maybe eyebrows and eventually BELOW maybe crawling through the bedding? I haven't had much experience with them thank heavens. I was brutal to my older girls when their elementary school got infested. My routine seemed to work for us.


Every time a letter came home from school saying it had been spotted I'd make them strip immediately upon getting in the door from school- clothes straight into plastic bag while they went straight to the bathroom. They took turns in the shower with a dog shampoo I had researched that had the same ingredient as the RID, I wish I could remember the name, the label of course said not for humans but if you check the ingredients it is NOT any more toxic than wearing RID for a long time! Then blow dry on HOT- heat kills the eggs. I do mean REALLY DRY, not dampish. That was good till morning, when I would TIGHTLY braid both girls hair and "helmet head" them both with hairspray. They HATED it, and so did I but

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 08-28-2010 - 1:27am

Shudder-- 800x normal population of mosquitoes, bedbugs, and now lice. What a wonderful week's conversation. Bet the people at the wedding would have LOVED to know about the "extra" gifts SD brought!

The unfortunate thing is, not only your sd, but her LIBF and the whole house is probably infested also. Bedding, clothing, chairs, hair brushes, headbands, etc, all can carry nits or adults, and YES the other grandparents are probably infested also, unless they've found out, told her and she's done nothing. Sounds like her personal hygiene, and obviously the way she is taking care of the hygiene of your grandson is poor, and LIBF must have some kind of a problem, because I cannot see anyone in their right mind laying down next to someone who is crawling with bugs.

Honestly, I would not allow the grandchild back in my house till he was deloused, and I would not step foot in the SD's house, either. And I wouldn't pussyfoot around waiting for your DH to tell her either. The longer you wait, the greater chance you have of getting them in your house. This is something that affects YOU, and YOUR house. I wouldn't care if it was my daughter, my stepdaughter or the next-door neighbors' daughter--if they had bugs, they'd get an earful from me, and I would not let them back in my house till I had PROOF they were clean. What ADULT gets head lice?? I wash my hair DAILY. When my kids were little, I just SUSPECTED I saw a bug, and we were ALL washing with RID for a month, and I boiled every piece of clothing, towel, or bedlinen that was not in a cedar chest, and threw out everything I couldn't wash. To be so continuously infested with lice is just gross, nasty and dirty. And if her father couldn't make that crystal clear to her, *I* would. And I would make sure EVERYONE around her knew, also.

I also cannot, for the life of me, understand why step parents will not parent their stepchildren, and just leave it up to the bioparent. If I loved, trusted and expected to have children with someone, I would expect BOTH OF US to parent ALL our children. I would trust my spouse's parenting, and expect they would trust mine, or I would not have married them or believed they could parent NEW children we would have. Surely you could see how your spouse-to-be is parenting their previous children before you marry them. Surely you can see how the previous children are treating YOU before you marry. No one can force them to LOVE you, but if your spouse-to-be has NOT made it clear to them that you are to be respected and obeyed, why the heck would you even live with that person--much less marry them?
My SIL TWICE married men with children from previous marriages, and she made it clear to her husbands, as well as to the kids, that in her house she was a PARENT, and was to be treated as such. She was--and is-- called Ma, Grandma, and is treated with respect. And BOTH husbands have been dead for years, and she's 68!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Sat, 08-28-2010 - 7:34am

I just want to begin by saying that I appreciate a different perspective (I asked for it, after all), BUT...

You're forgetting the "crazy ex-wife" factor, and the fact that my DH's kids aren't that bright (I'm not being mean...his DS, my SS, is medically dx with MR and his DD is low-normal at best). Crazy ex-wife tells the kids that we're being jackholes and they believe her. She was also rescuing them constantly from our "mean and crappy" parenting.

If we bow out from being grandparents until grandson is deloused, it will likely mean no contact until he's school-aged (about 4.5 years from now). He's got two other sets of grandparents...he's not short of them. If we contact the other grandparents to "tattle" on my step-daughter, she'll cut us out forever.

Lice don't jump and they don't crawl much unless it's through hair. They also don't travel much below the neck (body lice and pubic lice are totally different critters). I used to work for a public school and it was my job to contact and inform parents when lice was found in their kids' hair, so I know the score.

I lived with this girl for years without it impacting my own hair (would have mine routinely checked at the Health Unit), and I know how to keep it out of my kid's hair (DH is military and has a buzz cut so it's very, very unlikely that it would affect him). Vacuuming and wiping couches after they leave will likely be more than enough to keep us "safe".

I guess I'm looking for options/suggestions that are somewhere between my "leave it alone" approach and your "sledgehammer" approach. Thanks for taking the time though.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2002
Sat, 08-28-2010 - 8:43am

Wow....very difficult situation....how to spend time with your grandson...while worrying about the head lice...


Is there any way you could convince them to give your GS a crew cut?

 

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