Nitpicking is the lousiest thing about parenthood
You could call it the walk of shame - that stretch from the car to the school nurse’s office, when you’ve had the call. Your child has lice, and has been quarantined, until such time as you can remove them from campus, which can be anytime that suits within the next 15 minutes or so.
Problem is, while your offspring has been sequestered, you know it’s you who is the offender. And when you come to collect your pint-sized pariah, the only thing matching your displeasure is their pleasure at going home so early.
By the time you exit the gates though, your shame is already shifting to make way for resentment at the expense and labour in store. You have started brewing the loathing required to fuel war – man vs louse.
You fantasise briefly about being a single child family. She could have hair like a mini Jennifer Aniston and you would still keep her scalp as sterile as a shot of vodka. We could hire her out for Pantene ads for extra cash.
Then you hit earth again, and contemplate your actual scrum of progeny and step-progeny, who seem to have been hybridised with wombats when it comes to their hair genes. And now they are all equally guilty in fact, or by association, and in need of treatment before they can go back to school. You head to the chemist with a sack.
Like condoms, worm tablets, and creams for itches in the wrong places, buying lice treatment can be embarrassing the first time. But I’ve been blooded. I roll in for any such products like a gangster buying bullets. And indeed once I’ve swept the shelves it looks like there’s been a robbery. I jump back in the car with an empty wallet but a full complement of lotions, conditioners, a cache of confectionery and The Comb of Pain.
As it stands I have found no other way than confectionery, sprinkled with liberal doses of audiovisual stimulation, to make small people sit still for that comb. It’s like saying sit still while I slap you. And then saying, yes I know that hurt, but now sit still while I slap you again, harder. You need to be packing sugar for negotiations of this sort.
Especially when kids are in the puppy (or perhaps utopian) stage of life, where each day involves revolving from group naps to rolling around on the ground with your buddies, some encounter with lice seems inevitable.
As a result, I don’t beat myself up anymore. I have also learnt that like mosquitoes, lice are not only detestable but quite particular. They shop around and they have their favourites. Some kids are clean through sheer good fortune and other kids have organisms queuing up to get on board and party, notwithstanding decent hygiene.
Once the scalp apocalypse is complete I will send the boys off for crew cuts. One of the girls is also developing into a kind of pocket, female Bear Grylls so she can go too. Although she is barely older than a piece of Parmigiano Reggiano, she has already decided that hair impedes extreme sport and adventure and insisted on having hers cut off.
The other girls in our family are more typical though, in that their self-esteem appears to be stored in their hair. As a result, our regular proposals to reduce their locks are treated like proposals to shear their souls.
The only way to beat these suckers, and I don’t mean the kids, is a campaign of terror. Even despots often need more than one go at their plot. You have to rain down on those crawling illegitimates like it’s Armageddon for insects.
So if you’re in my house and you’ve got six legs there’s only one question to ask yourself – are you feeling lucky?
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…