The Southern-Fried Yankee

swimming in gravy...and sinking fast
MAY 23, 2011 1:10PM

On Nit Patrol

Rate: 7 Flag

Every weekday afternoon I wait in line to pick up my twin boys after school, and each day they greet me with a golden nugget from their school day. Kindergarten can be full of drama. Some recaps are happy, some are teary, and some just leave me flat-out speechless. It's kind of like reaching into a grab bag. I never know what I'll get on any given day. Yesterday's greeting was extra special.

"Francine has head lice," one of the boys informed me as he climbed into the truck. Okay…

"What? How do you know that?" "I found a bug in her hair." Oh, boy. Here we go.


"Yeah. It was crawling around."

"What happened, exactly?"

"We were all sitting on the carpet and Francine was next to me. I saw a head lice in her hair."

"Did you tell your teacher?"

"Yes, I told her." Of course you did.

"What did she say?"

"She said, 'Come here, Francine.' Then she looked through Francine's hair. She didn't see anything, so she sent her to the nurse." Great. Poor Francine. Guess I don't have to worry about him getting a girlfriend in the near future.

"So did she come back to class?" My head began to itch. I thought I felt something crawl across my scalp.

"Yeah, the nurse didn't see anything." Now the girl is truly traumatized. This will be one of those memories she carries with her for life. My son's name will be on her lips as she talks to a therapist about her childhood.

I can't say I blame my son for his concern. The pesky parasites seem to be a constant affliction among Kindergartners. We have been battling head lice for the last couple of months. I have treated and re-treated the boys several times. The boys will fidget while they tolerate me picking through their hair like a mama monkey on Animal Planet. Between the chemicals, haircuts, and the pickings, I'm becoming concerned about the rate of new hair growth. They'll be the only first graders using Rogaine. I'll have to buy them that spray on hair from Ron Popeil.

Believe me when I say I have bleached, sprayed, and boiled everything that has or will come in contact with human heads in our home. Bugs take one look at our place, smell death, and head for the neighbors' houses. However, my town must be home to some mutant form of head lice, because they seem to be resistant to any and all traditional pesticides. It is both mystifying and frustrating to be battling bugs that keep popping up like weeds in a pea patch.

Head lice infestation is embarrassing. Parents speak of lice in hushed tones among parents during play dates and birthday parties. We all dread hearing the news that our child has contracted the critters and we find ourselves instantly seeking someone else's kid to blame. Do not think for one second that I'm not dying inside as I write this, knowing the potential number of strangers who may read it and think we're nothing more than a bunch of redneck hillbillies munching on turnip greens and cornbread, as we shoo the dogs off the sofa we keep on the front porch for company. Totally untrue. We hate turnip greens.

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We had the same issues, but the one we had the most problem with was my daughter. Her first kindergarten/gradeschool years were HORRIBLE. Her hair grew down to her panties, and she picked lice up constantly - no matter how clean we were or how much laundry we did. It took hours of nasty smelling unsafe chemicals and picks (and pain). I finally found the perfect solution. A friend sold Melaleuca (tea tree oil) products. They made this wonderful shampoo containing that oil. That became the only shampoo I allowed in the house. Later I learned I could buy the oil cheaper and add to regular shampoo, same results. It kills, it is all natural, it dissolves nits, and stops anything from breeding. From the point we started using it, we never had it again.

And we never did learn to like turnip greens either. :)
I feel for you and the stress it must be causing your family. One of my six kids had it once, but luckily they didn't stay around for long. I can't imagine having to deal with the proportion you're talking about! Judging from your post, you're dealing with it with panache! You're writing is great!
P.S. No hillbilly can write the way you write! :)
Seemed like every time my kid's school would issue the "all clear," there would be another long weekend or holiday where one family would pick the infestation up again from visiting cousins. And back on the nit/bleach/itch wheel again we would all go...We got used to calling that family "Ground Zero" just to give them the thin comfort of "anonymity" but they wandered the Kindergarten pick up muttering sorrys and handing out nit combs to try to atone. I felt so bad for them. I hear they just quit visiting the cousins and that's when it all ended...
As my Mom says: Lice prefer healthy children with clean hair. They don't like sick kids with greasy hair.

With boys, my suggestion is a buzzcut, followed by use of hair gel. Lice don't like hair gel.
Thank you for the suggestion - I need all the help I can get!
You got me itching now, Mom. Can lice navigate the innertube? Never had that problem when I was a kid. Either the lice were too dumb or they're on the cusp of conquering the world. *scratching head and wondering if I should run the anti-virus scan again*
This is the best thing I have seen from you. If you get any better, I will hang up my keyboard and just read.