Today (Friday), Barham Primary School in conjunction with Barham Community Health are conducting a full scale attack using the Nitbusters Program on those annoying little suckers that are the bane of many children and their parent’s lives: head lice.
I well remember my first ever encounter with these pesky little critters. It was a glorious sunny spring Sunday in September 2005. The boys and I were up in Sydney on the edge of the Hawkesbury River and about to tuck into a delicious alfresco lunch of steak and salad. We were in holiday mode and meeting up with the rest of our extended family the next day. I’d poured myself a glass of South Australian Chardonnay and we were all looking forward to a relaxing afternoon.
Just as I started to cut into my porterhouse steak Sam said, “Mummy, my head’s itchy.”
I hardly glanced up as I replied, “Did a mozzie bite you Sammy?”
Suddenly Sam leapt from his chair, knocking it over and jumped towards me with both of his hands on his head and yelling, “NO. IT’S REALLY ITCHY!”
I shrank back in horror; his beautiful shiny blonde hair appeared to be a seething mass of …something? The awful reality dawned on me as I realised the “something” was head lice; lots of head lice. (Ok, it probably wasn’t a seething mass and there probably weren’t that many but it seemed like it at the time. I’m sure there are other parents who can relate to these feelings.)
Trying to stem the rising wave of panic and out of control melodrama that was threatening to engulf me, I bundled the boys into our trusty Nissan and headed speedily to the nearest open chemist shop, which happened to be at Berowra sixteen kilometres away. As I wound around the twistie-turnie Pacific Highway to Berowra I wondered if we were all infested? My head was now feeling decidedly itchy in a psychosomatic way. I felt mortified; I was a single parent and now my children had head lice. In my mind I was clearly on that slippery slope to chain smoking, wearing moccasins and gambling my sole parent pension away on poker machines.
Being a weekend afternoon the shops were all closing, I pulled up as close to the chemist as I legally could. With a quick glance around to make sure I wasn’t outside a casino, I left the boys in their car seats and sprinted into the shop. I suspect I may have looked ever so slightly deranged as I frantically searched the shelves for something along the lines of DDT.
Luckily a lovely pharmacy lady who looked as though she may have been somebody’s grandmother approached me and asked if she could be of any assistance. She then proceeded to arm me with the necessary shampoo, conditioner and nit comb and sent me on my way with a reassuring “It’s really not that bad dear, they’re only insects.”
Well they may be only insects but I was up till nearly midnight shampooing everyone, including myself and inspecting about three trillion individual hairs for nits. I then proceeded washing every item of clothing and linen we had been in contact with and sprayed the inside of the trusty Nissan with Mortein before collapsing into bed exhausted.
In the years since that rather memorable spring day, one or two of the boys have had the occasional bout of itchy insect head but thankfully I became a lot calmer in dealing with them. In subsequent times I merely lathered on cheap conditioner, combed the hair and followed up with thorough hair inspections for the following two weeks. Problem solved.
With a bit of luck and dedication the Barham Primary School and parent’s concerted efforts may well eradicate these wee vermin forever with the Nitbusters Program.