Have You Got The Itch?

I am sure that I have mentioned this before, but one of the occupational hazards of teaching is the increased (and unavoidable) exposure to nasty bugs and germs. No matter how many times you wash you hands or how rigorously you stick to your vitamin regiment, some terrible critter will find its way into your life by hitching a ride on one of the numerous sweet-faced, bacteria-carrying children you deal with on a daily basis. The latest surprise came in the form of a letter that I was asked to hand out to our class last week. It read something along the lines of:

Please note that a case of head lice has been reported. Please check your child’s head with a fine-toothed comb and use specialised hair products to treat as a matter of urgency.

With just that simple glance at the letter, my head immediately felt on fire like an entire colony of army ants had taken up residence and were trying to bury their way with ardent fervor!

I remember in Standard 1 when the school nurse came in to check each of us for head lice – and the great dismay and embarrassment when I was sent home for having a head full of nits. I also remember the painful process of having to sit in the bathroom at home bent over the sink while my mother diligently combed through each strand of my hair and then washed my head with a tiny brown bottle of shampoo in order to remove the critters and their eggs. The whole experience was quite mortifying – I didn’t understand. I was only 8 years old, I religiously washed my hair every 2nd day, I didn’t wear hats, I slept on clean linen, I was a clean person; and yet, the moment I heard the school nurse inform me that my scalp had been transformed into the breeding ground for these invaders I felt dirty. Luckily, a few combs and several hair washes later (thanks mom!) I was disinfected and given the all clear to return to school.

This time I was luckier, my head remains lice-free and I gave a massive internal sigh of relief at not having to re-live that memory just yet.