Saturday, September 25, 2010

night of the living hair

The saga of the cooties is not over.

On Thursday we got another call from the school. A nit was found. They are very strict at preschool, finding even a single nit means the child must be picked up and taken home right away. Now, one of the problems with science as a career for a working parent is that experiments are not the kind of work you can take home. They are time sensitive, and quite often they take several days. In this case I'd set up an assay the day before and needed to complete it. It would have been very difficult to take the day off. Fortunately Geekydaddy had no meetings, so he picked up the infested one and took her home.

Reluctant to do another chemical treatment, I decided to try the 'nit suffocation method' with Cetaphil, suggested by my doctor. Experiment complete, I got home early armed with bottles of the stuff. Its a facial cream cleanser, and you spread it through the hair and blow dry it on. It took about four hours to comb it through everyone's hair, but I have to say I can see how effective it is. The lotion loosens any nits and the creaminess makes it easy to comb them out. I found a total of 4 nits and what may have been one baby louse on my daughter, and one suspected nit on my son. The blow drying took forever. I let the kids watch TV with a lollipop to suck on, and turned the volume up really loud. I had a sudden flashback to when I shared a flat with a friend who set her hair in pretty curls every week, sitting for an hour or more under a salon style dryer with "Friends" turned up to ear blasting volume.

By the end of all the combing and blow drying I was wondering why I chose a husband who has shoulder length curly locks and was appreciating for the first time what hard physical work hairdressing must be.
We looked quite the sight when I was done. My daughter asked, "why is my hair big?", patting the dull bouffant it had become. I looked like Bonnie Tyler, if Bonnie Tyler had not showered for a couple of weeks. Bonnie goes to Burning Man, or Glastonbury, maybe.

We sent the kids to school the next day with the Cetaphil still in their hair. I was convinced that all that effort must have paid off.

I had just sat down at my desk when we got another call. A single dead nit found in Geekygirls hair. I should have washed and combed it again that morning, I suppose. For the first time I felt the preschool rules were overkill. There was no way there was a live bug on her hair. I kept my cool, because of course the preschool are just zealously trying to protect everyone else. Only Geekygirl and one other kid, the originator of the lice breakout, have been affected, which is good. Though it doesn't make me feel all that good to have one of the two lousy kids! The director said that if I could fax a letter from our doctor stating she was safe to be in school then she could stay for the day.

Ordinarily I would be quite happy to pick up the kids on a sunny Friday and just take the day off, but being in a new job, and having a lot more lab based work on my plate, I am worried about appearing unreliable. I reached out to the doctors office, who had recommended the Cetaphil in the first place and had and told me the kids would be OK to go back to school. The pediatrician took the time to call me back, and then faxed preschool the required letter. Such a relief to have a doctor sympathetic to a working mum.

We have hot washed all bedclothes, vacuumed the car seats and furniture, and will keep up with daily nit combing. I sincerely hope that we can get through next week without a call from the school.