Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Blog About Lice Shampoo

I have a new friend. She lives in Cambodia where she helps care for women and children rescued from slavery.

Including sex slavery.

That's some heavy stuff right there, but it didn't hit me how heavy until I read her Christmas list.

See, a group of us are gathering items to send in a big ole Christmas box to Cambodia. Can you imagine spending Christmas so far away from home and family? What sorts of things would be on your list? Mine might include:

  • G2 pens
  • Reese's cups
  • Dandruff shampoo
  • Burt's Bees chapstick
  • Books galore
  • Thick socks
  • Hair clips
  • Writing paper

And, yeah, some items like that made my friend's list as well. She needs a new hairbrush and wants iTunes gift cards, etc… She also wants stickers and small games she can play with the girls there. All good stuff. Understandable stuff.

But she also asked for lice shampoo.

And this has wrecked me for days.

I will be going about my normal day and suddenly think, "Lice shampoo" and then I'm crying. It happened on the way to church Sunday morning, listening to my first world kids complain about first world problems. I cried and cried and tried to explain why, but they are kids. They just don't get it. They can't imagine purposely going into a world where lice is a part of daily life for the people around you, where you have to deal with lice in order to fulfill your calling, to help those who need your help so badly.

My friend hugs girls who need hugs.
And, sometimes,
those girls have lice.
And having lice doesn't make them
less worthy of her hugs.

I am a girl. I had very long hair for most of my childhood. I went to school with other kids. More than once, I brought home lice. Then, once I was old enough to pay closer attention and not pick them up, my sister was in elementary school and she would bring them home. The result? For years, every time my head itched, I checked for lice. And I have a dry scalp so my head itched a lot.

A whole lot.

In other words, I know about lice shampoo.
I know about stripping your house and spraying
and giving up stuffed animals you loved.
I know about notes home in backpacks and
holding your head upside down for
what feels like hours while
your mother runs a fine-toothed comb over every solitary strand
of my long

I know about feeling dirty even when you aren't.

I carried a fear of lice into adulthood. I was nervous going to hair salons, convinced I would have picked up lice somewhere and the hairdresser would shriek and point at my head. And then everyone would turn and look at the girl with lice. And the whole shop would have to be sanitized and I would be humiliated.

And I would have to go home
and deal
with lice.

When I had boys, I thought, "Praise God for shaved heads and please no lice."

So far, so good.

But I remember.

And when I saw lice shampoo on my friend's Christmas list, it just undid me.

It is still undoing me.

I look around at my abundance.
I look at my children,
not likely to be sold into slavery.
Not likely to even miss a meal or
not get the toy they most want for Christmas.

And, sometimes, all I can do
is cry
over lice shampoo
in Cambodia.

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