Lice, Lice, Baby…
Ahhh, the nursery pick up and the bus ride home. Much like a 45 minute journey through purgatory with the contours of a warfare scenario or a mini UN session at play. You negotiate, you make silent complicit alliances with short glances and knowing half smiles, you pass judgement, you pretend you didn’t see that, you outright bully your way in armed with pushchair, you manage that tantrum with the skill of an elite army officer with a bag of apple flavoured rice cakes and dummies as ammunition.
But today I feel less general and more civilian, as Dalston trendies file past me with a downward stare on their way to latest pulled pork pop-up.
The words and pictures from that notice on the nursery door are still moving around in my head like giant bugs with furry paws and inquisitive antennas.
“There’s been a case of head lice in the nursery. Please keep vigilant and check your child’s head. Head lice are not due to poor hygiene and can be successfully treated with diligence and persistence.”
Diligence and persistence. So not just a one off shampoo then. Couldn’t you just have finished that notice at successfully treated? You had to add diligence and persistence? That means hard work that hardly ever pays off. I don’t like this.
Frantically, I check my son’s head before we even leave the nursery grounds. I think I see something but he isn’t taking well to my prodding.
I’ll check again on the bus.
I try to get the word out before the phone battery on my wimpy iPhone dies.
“I think the baby has lice,” I text his Dad.
He could be driving. He could be digesting the news. He could have actually crashed the car upon hearing the news. Or he could be thinking i’m making a big deal out of nothing, Probably that last one.
Time for some imperative Google searches but my phone, this atrophic piece of technology, keeps telling me it can’t possibly be asked to lift a digital finger because it’s full. FULL. Phone up, you crappy little device! How much memory do you need to process 1,200 photos of my child? They’re not pictures of TANKS . I need to Google everything about lice RIGHT NOW.
And there they are, courtesy of the search engine that knows everything about everyone and bugs too: Magnified creepy crawlers on unsuspecting baby locks and the words: “Head lice are tiny insects that live in human hair.”
Ok, I can handle this. I mean we all had it as children and we’re still here, right?
“They have six legs, each with a claw on the end. They use these to cling on to hair, and they survive by biting the scalp and feeding on blood.”
Is it hot in here? Why is this bus not moving? Why is it moving so fast? I’m trying to check my son’s scalp and balance a phone in the other hand, for God’s sake. I need silence and stillness, people!
“Look for lice eggs, known as nits. These tiny white or yellowish tear drop-shaped sacs are attached to the hair near the scalp. Nits may be easier to feel than to see: They’ll feel like grains of sand.”
I can see it. Oh my God I can feel it! I CAN FEEL THE SANDY NITS!
The baby pulls my hand away, throws his dummy on the bus floor, cries as I fight him and try as best as I can to remain calm and normal under the scrutinizing stares of bus passengers, while frantically lifting his curls and forcing my blurry eyes to catch the lice moving or the nits standing, hatching like alien, blood thirsty creatures in search of food.
There are hundreds of them in there. Hundreds.
The Guardian tells me there are lice salons and that a woman paid 400 pounds to rid her daughter of lice after they multiplied and refused to die for a year. There is a picture too, of a salon worker, a Lice Assassin in a protective suit with goggles and a menacing vacuum cleaner-like nit comb and the words “Comb to Kill” written across her chest.
A year. Comb to Kill. My baby’s locks, his beautiful curls, now home to blood sucking parasites which i’m sure I won’t be able to exterminate on my own.
I’m already on Boots buying nit combs with LCD lights, several bottles of harsh chemicals and a few ones of tree tea oil which bloggers and BabyCenter members swear by.
And his Dad still hasn’t answered my text.
My head hurts as I make it out the bus and push the baby and his lice home. I can swear the pushchair feels heavier already.
I can see it, I know it’s coming. The house is already a mess, there’s a bunch of unwashed sheets in the laundry basket – ok well piled on top of it – I will have to change his sheets daily, I will run out of clean sheets because there’s no time for daily laundry and where will I be drying all those sheets and Ii don’t even have that many sheets, and we will catch it too, or at least Ii will because his Dad doesn’t have any hair, and smelly lotion will stain everything, and he will rub his head against his stuffed friends Coco and Tuska and the penguin and the leopard and the teddy bear and they will all have to go in the wash as well, and there won’t be room because all the sheets are there, and there will be nits and lice on the floor and they will colonize the carpet and huddle between the floorboards, and they will build it so others come and they will have a postcode and pretty soon we’ll be paying them rent to live in our own house.
I put the key in the door to what is still my house, but not for long.
His Dad is home and greets us with a big smile.
“Didn’t you get my text??”
“Yes. I guess we’ll have to buy some lice lotion.”
Lice lotion? LICE LOTION? Do you know there are people who pay 400 pounds to kill them? Because it’s that hard, you know? Do you comprehend what’s about to happen here?? How can you be so calm??
“Jo, it’s just head lice, we’ll deal with it.”
“Just head lice?” Ok, it’s fine. He clearly doesn’t know these creatures WILL kill us in our sleep.
At bath time I check again and there it is. A mountain of grain, sandy like creatures massing together and calling my son’s scalp home.
“Can you see it? Can you feel it?” I ask anxiously.
“Yes, yes I can,” he repeats calmly, collectedly.
I finish the baby’s bath resigned to the fact that there is no escape.
I pick at my dinner and grab the baby’s daily report from nursery.
I’m in full self-torture mode.
“Your baby has had a lovely day at nursery today, playing in the sand pit, feeling the texture and dropping it on his hair,” it reads.
Does Boots do returns before items have arrived?