Si­mone ver­sus nits

Si­mone came home from school one day in­fested with head lice. Thus be­gan a long bat­tle for Honorine…

Milk Magazine (English) - - CONTENTS - text: honorine cros­nier il­lus­tra­tion: tif­fany cooper

Inthe first year of nurs­ery school, what a joy it is to see your child grow up a lit­tle more each day, grad­u­ally learn­ing about the al­pha­bet, colours and num­bers, and be­gin­ning to in­ter­act with other chil­dren. What a surge of emo­tion sweeps over you at the end of the day on find­ing in her clammy, still chubby lit­tle hand a crum­pled piece of pa­per cov­ered in black scrib­bles as she an­nounces: “Look, mummy, it’s you!”

That first year of nurs­ery school with its neck­laces made out of pasta, its pa­per gar­lands, its af­ter­noon teas for par­ents, Christ­mas choir and “col­lec­tive e-mails from well-mean­ing par­ents” al­ways ready to help. “Who can make a cake?” “Who can ac­com­pany the class to the cin­ema?” “Lola can­not find her cud­dly toy. Has your child taken it home by mis­take?” And so forth… I never usu­ally re­ply. I’m far too self­ish for that sort of thing. I con­tent my­self with skim­ming over the con­tents of the e-mails and fo­cus more on the “well-mean­ing” par­ents’ ad­dresses so that I can look them up later on Facebook. It’s far more in­struc­tive and, to be truth­ful, much more fun: “Theo’s par­ents have noth­ing to com­plain about. They reg­u­larly go off to their coun­try house in Nor­mandy. Cool.” Those are roughly the only con­struc­tive thoughts I have about Si­mone’s life at school.

Only one e-mail from Jules’ dad has man­aged to cap­ture my at­ten­tion since the be­gin­ning of the school year: “Be­ware: head lice are back!”

Hair­wise, I’d say mine is some­where be­tween a bale of hay and Aero­smith’s singer’s mane. While Si­mone’s is pretty easy to tame, mine, on the other hand, is a gen­uine ad­ven­ture play­ground for lice, com­plete with ideal cli­mate, gi­ant slides and end­less hide­aways. A true Dis­ney­land for nits. On read­ing this e-mail, I im­me­di­ately planned a whole strat­egy: win­dows open, bot­tle of Pri­o­derm, a pot of Ben & Jerry’s, Al­bert’s clip­pers, etc.

I got home at 6pm, and be­fore even say­ing hello to Si­mone, I leapt on her and started look­ing through her hair like a mon­key. I didn’t need a sec­ond opin­ion. She had nits ev­ery­where. She was lit­er­ally in­fested. I ran into the bath­room and squirmed about in front of the mir­ror only to dis­cover strings of nits cling­ing onto the bun­dle of hay above my head. I had, of course, been scratch­ing my scalp for some time, but I stupidly imag­ined that it was due to the change of sea­son or to the in­tensely cre­ative pe­riod I was go­ing through.

I dashed out to the phar­macy as if my house were on fire and bought ev­ery­thing I could lay my hands on. Ben­jamin, the chemist, looked at me with a mix of ex­as­per­a­tion and pity, try­ing to ex­plain that I didn’t need the whole range, that one treat­ment would be suf­fi­cient… I took no no­tice and spent over 150 eu­ros on anti-lice prod­ucts: nat­u­ral treat­ments, re­pel­lent sham­poos, elec­tric combs, con­di­tion­ers, sprays. If mix­ing with other peo­ple weren’t so dif­fi­cult for me, I would have hap­pily sham­pooed the whole build­ing. In short, I rushed home and com­menced the bat­tle. First treat­ment. Then hair rinsed and combed. Sec­ond sham­poo, hair rinsed and combed again. Sheets, du­vets, car­pets, cush­ions, dolls, soft toys, py­ja­mas, all treated. I was well and truly knack­ered by so much ef­fort. Al­bert, nat­u­rally, didn’t es­cape the in­va­sion of these lit­tle beast­ies. He, too, was in­spected by the light of my phone and co­pi­ously sprayed with dis­in­fec­tant.

Within a few days, I be­came so ob­sessed with the idea that lice had in­vaded my en­tire apart­ment that I be­gan talk­ing to them as I sprayed: “Ha, ha! You’re not so clever, now, you dirty lit­tle pests…” Af­ter a few weeks, I was even dream­ing of them at night, imag­in­ing them creep­ing around ev­ery­where in Hitch­cock­ian fash­ion, be­fore wak­ing up with a start in a sweat. Al­ways slightly un­bal­anced, I thought I’d gone com­pletely mad.

It took me a whole month to get rid of them all. The apart­ment had been trans­formed into an anti-lice clinic and I nearly started ask­ing vis­i­tors to put on a shower cap be­fore they walked through the door. At the end of this long bat­tle, I fi­nally found the courage to re­ply to Jules’ dad’s e-mail. With my usual hon­esty, I wrote: “There are none in our home. Good luck, ev­ery­one.”

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