My Fellow Inebriates,
For the third time a head-lice notice has come home from the school. As always it says “A CASE OF HEAD-LICE HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED IN YOUR CHILD’S CLASSROOM”—although, if you bother to ask the teacher, this is a form letter, and “the case,” in this case, occurred in another classroom.
The thing that scares my parents most about head lice is cleaning the house. If the bugs nest on your kid’s head, you have to tear the house up, vacuum and bleach, seal things in bags—never mind comb out the critters and do the chemical hair treatment, all the while undoubtedly listening to some misguided neighbor ranting that the special shampoo is carcinogenic.
For filthy people like my mother the idea of vacuuming the whole house—i.e., every room in one go—is completely novel. Vacuuming the upholstery would be unthinkable. So there’s a big temptation to stay home and wait out a lice scare. But of course we can’t do that. For one thing, yours truly would get a lot of additional playtime and possibly need some parts sewn up.
The other solution would be to shave the kids’ heads—something my mother would be all over if it wouldn’t attract the wrong kind of concern. One of P’s little friends recently took the scissors to her own head, and her parents—hard-core Langley homeschoolers unable to conceive of a punked-out hairstyling solution, buzz-cut the girl’s hair, little knowing that from then on well-meaning neighbors would inquire relentlessly about “the chemo” and even bring casseroles over. Since my mother is afraid of attracting weird neighbors, shaving the kids’ heads is out.
Luckily the school already instructs the kids about personal boundaries, discouraging hat and jacket sharing as well as hugs (there’s an actual policy against hugging for grades one to seven), all of which is defeated by the dress-up gear in the preschool room consisting of every kind of hat and helmet imaginable, and obviously available for heavy sharing. Which means head lice invariably originate in preschool (where kids trade hats) and kindergarten (where the ban on hugging isn’t enforced).
Of course lice don’t stay confined to those lower grades because, when the recess bell goes, all the kids run out onto the same playground where they forget the regulations and swap hats, jackets, and hugs.
So there’s not much you can do to prevent lice, I guess, although I did pose one suggestion to my parents: soak the kids’ heads in mescal. If it’s enough to kill that big caterpillar larva in my tantalizing blue bottle, surely it can scare off any roving head lice.
For someone who doesn’t like the word “retarded,” my mother sure throws it at me a lot. She said her world was interesting enough without Child Services being involved, thank you very much, you brain-damaged bear.
I thought it was pretty generous to offer my bottle of mescal. But let’s face it, I can’t get it open anyway by myself. We need a reason to open it. Would it be so weird to sniff it from the kids’ hair?