“What?” I ask anxiously.
“The school just sent an email. Head lice. In four classes.”
“Yes. Will you help?”
This will make three times in as many months. We could solve the problem by shaving their heads, but I refrain from making that suggestion.
“Of course I’ll help.” Treatment is not something one can do alone and as she and her daughter are always cuddling, we’ll have to do both of them.
Step one: Buy wine.
Step two: Apply the treatment—kills the lice and nits in 58 seconds, they claim.
Step three: After 30 minutes comb the hair with the special lice comb provided. Small problem here. The comb does not catch all the nits. Stop combing and try to trap the nit between your thumb nail and finger and pull it down the strand of hair. Sometimes you succeed, but usually you don’t.
The process gives a whole new meaning to the expression “nitpicking.”
Step four: Open another bottle of wine.
Step five: Curse and question the whole scientific community. Why the “H E double L” hasn’t someone managed to eradicate these little devils?
The damn things have been around for hundreds of years.
“Since no verified fossils of lice have ever been found we can only speculate when they originated. We do know the ancient Egyptians and Greeks wrote of them and they were found on prehistoric American Indian mummies.” Penn State Department of Entomology
Step six: Strip the beds, throw all recently worn clothing and anything that might have been in contact with the infected heads in the wash, put brushes, combs, and hair accessories to soak in boiling water.
Step seven: Repeat the treatment process a second time 8 to 10 days later.
Any teacher can tell you that head lice find their way through every single elementary school. I was once principal of a K-9 school that hosted a head lice study (I do not remember agreeing to this) and it was a nightmare. Weeks and weeks of checking every single person’s head for lice and I don’t remember what all else—obviously the whole experience was one of those things one does not want to remember. And—big surprise—the study did not come up with any magic answers.
If you’ve never had to deal with head lice and nits (which stick around for days after the treatment), count yourself lucky.