The Nitty Gritty

I had always equated nits (head lice if you’re nasty) with John Hughes-era, backwoods elementary schools in dirt-road Appalachia. I mean, really, who gets lice?

We do.

About three weeks ago, just as school was about to end for the year, Cole mentioned that his head was itchy. As this coincided with the first days of a Southern Summer, I chalked it up to sunburned scalp. Just a week ago, he had his mop cut into a smooth, swim-friendly cut. The hairstylist clearly didn’t notice his head was, uh, apparently home to parasites.

Wolf cut

What you know about rocking a wolf on your noggin?

How did we not know? Well, because you don’t know what you, uh, don’t know? He never complained of itching, sans twice in three weeks. I would have never even thought to look. Until we thought to look.

Tonight the kid has suffered through my cleaning mania, which is far more focused on the child than on the house. I find my own behavior a tad uncharacteristic, because I have a tendency toward obsession in terms of a clean home. The way I look at it, though, is that the bugs don’t live for long when not lovingly attached to a head, so fix the kid, fix the house. That translated to an hour and a half spent in the bathroom, first washing his hair with tea tree oil, then with Nix®, followed by the gel and a metal fine-tooth comb. He was a trooper, shedding just a few tears from the initial pull of the comb. At 10pm, he is asleep, his head clean but coated with a big-ass glob of Pantene hair mask and olive oil, in a hopeful attempt to get the last of those fuckers. And while I write here, relatively safe on a leather couch, Matthew washes all manner of bed and furniture coverings, God bless him.

It’s nasty business.

Funny thing, though. As much as it’s a giant pain in the ass, I am not… freaking out (much). It’s unpleasant, yes. It’s tedious, mmhm. But in the mammoth vastness of bad potentialities, this is small potatoes. And for the first time in a week or more, Cole and I had a quiet conversation. As I combed through the gel plastered to his hair, inch by excruciating inch, we talked.

Am I saying it’s been a blessing? Hell no. But I’m saying that sometimes it takes a little inconvenience to slow me down and jar me into awareness. Cheers, universe.

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1 Comment

Filed under Raising Kids

One response to “The Nitty Gritty

  1. Ugh. Been there, twice now.

    We didn’t use Rix, because as new parents we were terrified of anything stronger than dawn coming near our baby. And yes, I think he was 4 or 5 at the time. We used mayonaise, and it took us 4 tries to completely get rid of them, soaking our heads in mayo for an hour (under dollar store shower caps) while we stripped every piece of bedding and cloth we could in the house.

    The second time, 4 years later, we did the mayo again but we knew how to work it. Three weekends in a row, we spent Saturday morning with shower caps on playing cards while our sheets ran through the regular laundry.

    We didn’t see any lice after day 1, but they can take up to 2 weeks to hatch, so we took no chances, and did it twice more. This time, they never reappeared and everyone enjoyed family game time with our shower caps on.

    Mayo is cheap and harmless to people, although my brother-in-law swore off eating it for 3 months after he saw what we were doing to it.

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