Friday, May 22, 2015


There's a conversation killer, right?  Lice.  No one talks about them.  From what I can tell though, the school is riddled with the little buggers.

Over the winter, Wisp came home with a note indicating she had lice.  And then all four children were Nix-ed and everything was laundered.  And about ten days later Bow had lice and all four children were Nix-ed and everything was laundered.  And about twelve days after that, Big Smiles (Nix, Laundry) and then again Big Smiles and I had lice (Nix, laundry).  Don't underestimate the time, effort and towels required to Nix four children and often also two adults.

Speaking for myself (and I think the kids feel this too, Bow perhaps especially as her lice coincided with a hair-matting problem which ultimately culminated in her long Chincoteague-like mane being cut down to a fashionable bob), finding lice on oneself is humiliating.

There's a significant shame component.  Am I dirty?  (Am I evil and are my sins being punished by the recurring plague of lice??).  I am not updating my FB status to read "Hey, I have lice!"  Are you?  (You probably should be: everybody has them.)

The kids rat out their friends though, and other grown-ups.  The kids reveal, salaciously, who really has lice (everyone!).  I asked Big Smiles where he thought the lice were coming from and he cheerfully said that his best friend at school has  LOTS of lice on her head.

God, it makes my head itch to even type this post.

I've given up on the Nix.  If  once a week or so you have to reapply, and launder like an especially OCD Lady Macbeth muttering "Out out damned [louse]" over a mountain of bedding, then it is not working.

I have instead bought what purports to be the best nit/louse comb on the market.  It is small, and has grooved metal teeth. Every two or three days I comb the kids and myself.  Every two or three days their heads look clear, their scalps clean, and yet I harvest two or three lice.  I feel more like an ape each week.

With this shift to constant combing, I find some benefits.  Instead of irately, urgently, frantically washing and laundering, I drift towards fondly grooming in a social behavior that (as the sign at the zoo by the Chimpanzees announces) "soothes and calms."  Is this effective? I hope so.  It's better than all the Nix-ing.  But still, there are lice and (when I am not in stupefied nit-comb wielding denial), it makes me want to weep that I can't get them to go away.

Ex-Husband may have thought I was merely neurotic, and there were no lice . . . one advantage of the combing is that I can save a number of carcasses in a bowl of water to demonstrate the existence of the bugs: "See!  Those are not in my head, they are on that child's!"

It's an interesting feature of the blended family in which two pairs of children rotate in to this household and then out to their other parents' homes (ie three households in total: the one here, Ex-Husband's and Ex-Wife's) that the lice come to symbolize unanswerable curiosity.  What goes on over there?  How does that other parent deal with the lice?  Has the other parent ever found lice on their own head?  These are itching questions . . . and yet one can't ask.

Liceyness: as Taboo as menstruation in terms of topics one can ask about in the Big Wide World.

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