The nitty-gritty…

It’s one of the banes of childhood life – nits. In another guest post from my sister
Louise, she describes in all-too vivid detail the horror of discovering her little
darlings’ heads absolutely hoachin’ with those persistent little critters. You’ve
already started scratching your napper, so you might as well read on …

I was quite happy in denial. My seven-year-old had complained of an itchy scalp, I had a quick look, diagnosed dry scalp and left it.

Central heating and all that, the winter’s coming. My refusal to accept reality was shattered by a mum at school last Friday with six little words: “By the way, Lucy’s got nits.” (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

Are you scratching yet? I did. Immediately. But I forgot after school – Friday is a real treat night for us, no homework, cartoons are freely watched, sweeties greedily consumed.

Plus, I was making sloe gin for the first time. I was all set up and looking forward to it. The last thing on my mind was critters of any kind.

Saturday morning we were all up early, me raring to go to bootcamp in the park, a puke-inducing 45 minutes but fun. I suddenly remembered: “Right, girls, bathroom. Let’s check your heads before we go.”

Believe it or not, I was still humming and hawing over Alice’s head at this point, but when Claudia, who looks like a dark-haired Harpo Marx, stood on the stool and I parted her curls, there were no doubts. That’ll be bootcamp off then.


After a quick post to the parents’ Facebook page – check yer kids! – we were off to Boots for opening time.

The pharmacist took one look at the curly heads in front of him, promptly signed us up for minor ailments and gave me two large bottles of Hedrin to slather on to their lousy little heads. I threw in a nit comb and set for home.

I got the solution on the heads and then started laundering everything in sight. Not the short wash either, but the long, hot cotton ones that take an age. In between washing, spraying surfaces and general panic cleaning, I was on the internet researching.

The first nit combing I did was illuminating. Dark little critters, by now drowned/suffocated/whatever, came out and glassy, translucent little eggs clogged the comb.

I can’t describe how unbelievably dirty I felt at this point, but this was not the time for another shower. There was bleaching to be done.

By this point, other parents had checked their kids and posted positive or negative results. I escaped catching them, god knows how, but a few mums weren’t so lucky.

After five large loads of laundry, several combings and a wealth of information gleaned from Google, I relaxed slightly. Well, they had them now, right?Sigourney-Weaver-Aliens

However, I was quite delirious by this point, imagining me in an action movie, battling the great nits, uttering awesome one-liners and emerging victorious, with a massive nit comb and a bottle of conditioner.

Now, where’s the rest of that gin?

4 thoughts on “The nitty-gritty…

  1. Mary had nits on and off for most of primary school years. I did all that ‘nitty’ stuff to get rid of them. I balked at dousing her hair with petrol which is what my mother did to us. There were so many things against us, her hair was long, her best friend had nits and girls were forever putting their heads together and whispering. She hated being ‘nit combed’ and I hated doing it. At one point her glands were up and a blood test revealed she had a super high white cell count. With ‘leukaemia’ ringing in my ears we were fast tracked to hospital. The pompous consultant loudly pronounced ‘she doesn’t have leukaemia, does she have nits?’….. apparently persistent nits can cause a low level infection which sends the white cell count rocketing! In the end we just lived with them, they are on a par with worms and cupping your hands to catch your children’s vomit when there is nothing else to hand. None of them bear thinking about but when it happens you just deal with it. I will never forget Ian coming home from the chippy one cold winters night. He had taken Mary with him and the warm fuggy air inside the chip shop had turned her head into a seething mass ….the horror….needless to say we have been nit free for several years now…as always, these things will pass.

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