I was thirteen the last time this happened. It was my sister's seventh birthday party and I sat there in a chair the entire time as my mother combed through my hair and Rachel and her friends ran around the yard in their princess dresses.
"Rebecca, you're infested!" - my mom in 1994
"Rebecca, you're infested!" - my mom... two weeks ago.
INFESTED with nits. We all were. Fable Archer and I had lice BAD and the worst part? We had no idea. How this happened, I don't know. You never think to look until you're told to look? I never thought to look, anyway. Until Thanksgiving weekend when the email came and there goes the neighborhood.
I called our pediatrician who recommended a website called Nuvo for Head Lice which takes a chemical free approach, but not after combing through all of our heads to remove nits. So my mother, in all her heroic awesome, did just that/ One by one she went through all of us. She went through our hair with the nit comb for twelve hours straight.
The next day, it was my turn. We came home to a house full of what I imagined was lice-ridden everything and I turned into a crazy person in three point zero seconds and bagged and washed and cried and cried again and Hal just... existed, lice-free and smug on the sidelines.
"What can I do?"
"Nothing. You can't do anything. YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING!"
So he did nothing. Because I told him he could do nothing but also because for the last three days every time he tried to do something it was the wrong something. Every time he offered up advice it was the wrong advice. Any time he tried to tell me something to make me feel better it was the wrong something and I was so angry I told him to take the kids and leave so that I could deal with this myself and then I went into the closet and had a panic attack.
"Bec. Let me help you."
"What do you need?"
"YOU TO STOP ASKING WHAT I NEED!"
The trouble was I needed so much somethings I didn't even know where to start. My mom was the only person who knew how to help with these types of things and she was two hours away and I was alone with my lice and Archer's lice and Fable's lice and so many hats and crowns and sheets and pillowcases and rugs and stuffed animals and dolls with fake hair and Hal didn't know what to do or how to do it the way I needed it to be done and I hated him for it.
I hated him so much I didn't speak to him for the entire day. Not until, bending over to refit Revi's crib with fresh sheets, I threw my back out. In the can't-move-paralyzed-with-pain way that has only happened to me one other time. (Remember that scene in Sex and the City when Miranda's naked in the bathroom and Aidan (I think its Aidan?) has to help her into bed? That.)
"You bug me so much right now. You and your bald head and your working back and your inability to know what to do.WHY CAN'T YOU JUST KNOW WHAT TO DO?"
"WHY CAN'T YOU HELP ME HELP YOU?"
"BECAUSE YOU MAKE EVERYTHING WORSE EVERY TIME SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS!!!"
And then he stormed off and I stormed... in place because I couldn't get up.
A few moments later, Hal returned.
"You need to let me help you."
Hal put me on the couch with a heating pad and went to finish the laundry, refit all the beds with new sheets and pillow cases. He fed the kids and put them to bed and everything got done while I sat on the couch and watched Parenthood and sobbed because, duh. It's Parenthood.
When the show was over Hal escorted me to the bedroom where he had, apparently, while I was busy sobbing over the Braverman drama du jour, created some kind of weirdsmobile massage parlor complete with faux flickering candles, wilted petals from the dead flowers on display in the dining room and Enya on the Boom Box.
His shirt was off revealing a man bra he shaved out of chest hair. To make me laugh.
All of it was to make me laugh.
And it worked. I laughed. I laughed so hard I cried because it hurt to laugh and oh my back my back my back.
"Shhhhhh," he said. "Namaste."
So I did. I namasted.
It was the first time all weekend I felt relaxed.
Thanks to Caribbean Blue and chest hair art.
Thanks to Caribbean Blue and chest hair art.
Thanksgiving weekend was definitely our worst on record but that night, under (flickering) LED candles and the hymns of the gods I recognized that THIS is where Hal wins at everything. He may be terrible in a crisis but he's brilliant in the aftermath. Something I suck royally at, always have. (I can get everything done but not without becoming a total mess myself. I'm like a tornado of "fix the problem NOW" until I collapse under the weight of my own... tornado.)
Enter FEMA in man form.