Scott and I were just discussing the similarities between how people react when they find out someone is gay compared to finding out that someone has lice. One of our children has had lice this past week, and it has been interesting to observe the attitudes of others as we have shared this news with them.
This son had a birthday party (slumber party) to go to, and so I told the mother of his lice just in case, even though we combed through his hair carefully before he went and were pretty confident that there was nothing on his head to contaminate anyone else. The mother did not mind at all. She said that she has worked in group homes, and that lice come and go frequently, and it was no big deal to her.
Meanwhile, family that we were going to spend the weekend with to watch conference at a family condo were not sure they wanted us to come, because they were afraid of catching the lice or maybe thought that the condo would be infested with lice that would then become a burden for everyone in the family.
Before Scott came out to me and I read No More Goodbyes, I had very little understanding of homosexuality; it is hard to really remember how I felt about it because I wasn't aware at the time of how I was feeling. But I have been able to observe the reaction of others to Scott this past year, as well as hear many stories of how families and friends reacted to others' coming out. Often there is a lack of education and understanding, a fear and judging and making assumptions, etc.
Likewise, when I have heard about families with lice, I think I have been concerned about staying away from them to prevent catching it. But now that it is my own child with lice, he is my son, and I can't banish him from the house or stop hugging him just because I am afraid of catching lice. Instead, Scott and I have been learning everything we can in order to understand it and take care of our family.
So, we now have the unique opportunity to learn all about lice, about how it prefers clean hair, about how it is harder to catch than you might think (like mostly transferred by head to head contact rather than off of objects, since lice can survive for at most 48 hours when not on a human host.) About how it is not essential to bag up all stuffed animals and pillows for 2 weeks, about how vacuuming is better than poisonous sprays on furniture and carpet. You get the picture.
Because of people's misconceptions and misunderstanding (because they are uneducated on matters of lice), they let prejudice and fear influence judgments and assumptions against even people that they love.
(Of course there is the obvious difference that lice actually can be caught, as opposed to other things like homosexuality that aren't contagious, even though some people believe otherwise :-).
Lice remind me of my favorite story from the book The Hiding Place. (For anyone who hasn't read it, I highly recommend it.) In a nutshell, it is the true story of two Christian women in a concentration camp during WWII that secretly read their bible together every day. One day they read a scripture that tells them to be grateful in all things. They start listing things that they are grateful for. One of them mentions being grateful for the lice. The lice? The other sister cannot fathom being grateful for the lice, but tries to be grateful, with her sister's encouragement to be grateful for all things. Later they find out that because of the lice, the guards were less likely to enter their building, and therefore they were able to hide their bible and read it daily without getting in trouble.
Earlier this week, the children and I recalled this story (I shared it with them in a Primary Sharing Time a few years ago right after I had read the book) and wondered if we could find a reason to be grateful for the lice. Here is what I have come up with in the days since: I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about lice. I am grateful for the motivation to give the boys needed haircuts, the motivation to be a bit more thorough in cleaning our house (especially the kids' rooms and changing their bedding). I am reminded of how grateful I am that Scott is so willing to be a good husband and father in helping with the children, for cutting their hair, for combing through everyone's heads every day, for researching and buying the best comb out there. I am also grateful that we can enjoy conference alone this weekend with Scott's parents at the family condo because everyone else is afraid to come for fear they will catch the lice! :) I am grateful that extended family has had a chance to learn more about lice, just like they have had the chance to learn more about homosexuality in the past year.
What fun thing do we get to learn about next?
5 weeks ago