Peace dead at the scratch of a head

Kids and lice – it’s when a long, tir­ing bat­tle be­gins

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

IS IT fi­nally time to talk about head lice?

If you’re not al­ready madly scratch­ing your scalp at the mere men­tion, you’re prob­a­bly also one of those peo­ple im­mune to con­ta­gious yawn­ing and should con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity that you are a ro­bot.

Fol­lic­u­lar pesti­lence is the scourge of the pri­ma­ryschool set.

For any­one mer­ci­fully un­fa­mil­iar with this field of study, let me elab­o­rate: it ranges from nits (tiny, ul­tra­sticky eggs con­creted on to the hair) to nymphs (new­born in­sects vir­tu­ally un­de­tectable by sci­ence) to full­grown lice (small, scut­tling surf­boards of hor­ror).

And be­fore you get all judgy, know that they’re ev­ery­where and the louse doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate. Boy or girl; rich or poor; dirty hair, clean hair; La­bor or Lib­eral; Si­mon or Gar­funkel – once these mites have in­fil­trated a school they’re not picky.

There’s a few ways to sud- denly find lice have sprung on to your off­spring.

The dreaded note comes home, in­form­ing fam­i­lies that there has been an out­break at school.

But as you con­fi­dently check your child’s skull you dis­cover a car­ni­val of creepy-crawlies has taken up res­i­dence – some time ago, judg­ing by the alarm­ing size – and pray that your kid’s nog­gin didn’t spark the all-points bul­letin.

Oth­er­wise, head lice are al­ways de­tected a) at the hair­dresser, b) at a sleep­over, c) as you walk out the front door off on hol­i­day; and d) by your mother-in-law.

Next it’s on to the ex­cru­ci­at­ing-for-ev­ery­body process of an­ni­hi­lat­ing the in­vaders.

We have run the gamut of treat­ments over the years, from a sooth­ing, all-nat­u­ral mix­ture of ti-tree oil and mother’s tears, to con­di­tioner and bak­ing soda, to in­dus­trial-strength chem­i­cals to all-out fire­bomb­ing.

Then there’s the comb­ing, the end­less comb­ing out of crit­ters and eggs while your grum­bling chil­dren are pla­cated with very lengthy, age-in­ap­pro­pri­ate movies.

What­ever method you choose, it’s highly pos­si­ble that the in­fes­ta­tion will even­tu­ally mi­grate to the adult head – lead­ing to that spe­cial time when, like pri­mates, you and your part­ner must rum­mage through each other’s hair.

Who said ro­mance is dead?

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