nice-to-meet-you gift idea

September 17, 2012 | 49 Comments

close up of sunglasses on Shannon Fisher

Dear Monique,

My friend Brent introduced me like this once: “This is my friend Shannon; she cries a lot.” I was about to protest when I realized it’s true. I shrugged, smiled and shook hands with Brent’s friend.

In my defence, I attempted to participate in a 100k ride with Brent and a group of friends on Canada Day. I say attempted because I showed up with my commuter bike–having very little riding experience– to find the other riders decked out in wind-resistant, padded shorts; cycling jerseys; clip shoes; and road bikes that weigh less than fairy shit.

I cried under my sunglasses before we left the parking lot. I cried at the top of the first hill. I cried when lead guy, Larry, left me because I made him. I cried when Larry and Brent came back for me out of kindness, not realizing it further inflamed my humiliation and self-loathing. I cried when they peddled backwards and I still couldn’t keep up. I cried when I made them leave me again. I cried when my chain fell off. I cried when I got to the cabin and saw the kind face of a friend waiting to comfort me. And I even cried a little in the shower later, feeling silly I’d only done 10 of the 100k.

So, yeah, Brent is right: I cry a lot.

Sunday morning as I sat and laughed with you, your husband and Barb at the table over coffee and good conversation, waiting for our girls to clean up the sleepover bomb that hit your basement, I felt content and welcome. This was Emma’s first school sleepover. She’s struggled socially since kindergarten, and adding a move made for a lonely cocktail last year. As parents, our hearts broke for Em, and Steve and I wondered if we’d made a huge mistake relocating to BC.

Emma’s gained tools to deal with her frustration, she’s outgrown some of her more extreme reactions, and things seem to be looking up for her this year. Sitting with you, sipping coffee, filling your kitchen with laughter, and listening to our girls play made me feel like things are looking up for all of us. These are my kind of people, I thought, as you warned me of the flagrant deep-crevasse cleaners in the showers at a local pool.

Calling with news that we exposed your family and Barb’s to head lice was not on any How to Make a Good First Impression list I’d read.

I had been working hard to keep composure for Emma’s sake after I saw two adult lice on her head. I didn’t even have to move her hair to find them; they mocked me in plain sight. “WE’VE HAD YOUR KID ALL WEEK, STUPID!” I comforted her with the limited lice-wisdom I have. I didn’t believe the platitudes I had to offer, and judging from her lip quiver, neither did Emma.

By the time you picked up the phone, I was low on poise and choked out my confession like I was back in grade two, explaining to Principal McCorquindale that, yes, I was the one who threw Doug’s boot on the school roof before he got to the cloak room to discover it missing, because it was going to be hilarious.

Nothing like having to console someone you met seconds earlier when all you really want to do is hang up and:

  1. Shave head.
  2. Throw away clothes.
  3. Burn down house.
  4. Move to outer space.
  5. Repeat.

This was lice treatment advice I got from another friend. I really have the best people in my life.

My eight years as a teacher taught me lice don’t discriminate, they have nothing to do with levels of cleanliness, and they’re manageable. That was easier to ramble off and believe before finding myself in the throes of my very own critter party. Did I mention I have them, too?

Guess what I did five times yesterday?

Besides talking myself out of shaving our heads.

Cried. Yes, I cried. I CRY A LOT OKAY.

Thankfully Steve took over the stripping of sheets, laundering, vacuuming, and pep talks. Without him, Emma and I would probably be bald in outer space this morning.

I’m grateful for your kindness on the phone and again later when you called back and then emailed with tips. I’m glad to hear there’s no sign of lice in your home or Barb’s. Emma spent three hours on a chair in the kitchen yesterday afternoon while I combed through her hair. I did mine as best I could and Steve did it again later when he finished all that cleaning. Steve shaves his head, so thank receding hairlines for that small gift.

My dreams were lousy (har, har) and I woke up bummed out, the same way I went to bed. I’m hopeful we’ll be lice-free soon. Em and I are playing hooky today; we’re filing it under Mental Health. I called our schools and her daycare lady to report our breakout. Emma was worried her name would be on the lice letter sent home. Poor kid. She was hysterical last night because her stuffies are sealed up in garbage bags for a couple of days. She was doing the Ugly Cry. I’m like, “Kid, you’re sleepover sleep deprived, you have lice, it’s late, and you have my genes; tears explained!”

It was fantastic to finally meet you. You seem like lovely people. We are, too; I swear. You just met us in the middle of a lesson from the universe. Something about humility, humanity, empathy and life cycles.

I hope you have a lice-free week,


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