Lice and LOTR

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Well so much for October this year. It is absolutely my most favorite month of the year and it is always piercingly beautiful here in Virginia.

Of course there was a bit of a damper on our October this year as my kids got head lice, well three of them did. Apparently they don’t like Ronia, or Ben or myself( thanks God! ). It was a pain in the neck, mind you, not nearly so gross as some things (pinworms) or as much cleaning as some things(fleas). Those were both way worse in terms of cleaning, believe me. But lice is, well, time consuming.

The best way to get rid of them is to comb, comb, comb. I was happy not to have to douse the kids with pesticides (though if it had been bad, believe me, I would have done it.). But we did all smell like tea tree oil and oil of thyme for a few weeks there and part of our daily routine was sitting on the front porch combing out nits. I think my children consumed more lollipops in those three weeks then in their entire lives to date and Ronia got lollipops just to keep her out of my way while I combed so even though she never had the lice she is now completely addicted.

It was a great learning experience for me. I learned that dirty kids are less likely to get lice than clean kids. Lice lay these eggs that are totally glued to the hair shaft so all the hullabaloo about not sharing brushes, while well meaning, seems a bit overblown. Really kids get them from touching heads. Period.

So after three weeks of lice, I began to look forward to all the amazing things I would do with my time now that I didn’t have to comb my children’s hair for hours a day. It was like a great gift of freedom was coming my way. . . and I immediately got the flu. I have to confess, I almost enjoyed it. I have not laid in bed all day in almost three years (when I was post partum with Ronia).

I whipped thru half of The Fellowship of the Ring ,which I had started in September, and was only about half way thru and then stumbled out of bed to the living room in a feverish haze to grab The Two Towers and then finished that and grabbed The Return of the King.
I remember enjoying these books when I read them as a young adult. I think I was eighteen or nineteen when I first read the Trilogy of the Ring. The movies were just about to come out and I had grown up amongst Tolkien fanatics and even acted in a play of The Lord of the Rings as a spry lass of thirteen (Man of Gondor #4– highly coveted role. Yes, only so many female parts to go round and I couldn’t believe that nobody wanted a short underdeveloped brown haired kid to play Galadriel or Eowyn) I figured I had better squarely read them cover to cover even though I knew the entire story backwards and forwards and had even had the pleasure of seeing the fourth grade teacher frothing at the mouth and jumping around as the Balrog in Khazad-dum. Whatever delights Peter Jackson had in store for me, few could compare with that. But still, I had my pride and plowed thru the books, enjoying them thoroughly and even going on to read The Silmarillion. I was ready to see the film. Ben and I got ourselves all pumped up, made costumes. I was a wood-elf of Lothlorien, he Strider. We went to see the movie and, well, came home a bit deflated. It just wasn’t what we had expected.

Poor Peter Jackson. Making movies for Tolkien fans must be a tricky business, and, well, they are all bound to be disappointed on some level. But I think there is something that grabs at your heart in these books. Something deeper than a good story and great characters. It brings you into the heart of myth and awakens in your counciousness a deep longing for things that are past and things to come. Somehow when I remember my six grade teacher who wrote and directed that LOTR play, there was a feverish excitement in his eyes and a special zeal in his gaze as he directed us. He was awakened to the mystery of these stories and wanted so desperately for us all to share that.
I think that there on that stage, with orcs running on at the wrong time, two kids using a wine glass full of water offstage as sound effect for the ring, and a bunch of pubescent girls with swords as the brave host of Gondor, we were transported. Mr. Jackson I am sure shared much of Mr. Kerstings’ zeal and love for LOTR. But who was more successful? As I am reading these books again, with the eyes of an adult, I have to say, the latter.

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