Those Bothersome Bugs

Once again the school had sent notes home about another outbreak of head lice but of course I was confident that we had never had and never would get lice. Over the phone, the school secretary asked me to check Rachel’s head. Since she was in morning kindergarten, Rachel had missed the head check that afternoon. It seems that lice epidemics thrive in the younger grades and slowly spread through the entire school.

I laughed and said, “I just washed her hair last night; I really don’t think she has any but I’ll check anyway.”

I called Rachel3b5dd93b0703487493a500bf66f683de over to a bright window, parted her hair and peered closely at her scalp. Her head was literally crawling with bugs! After screaming shrilly, I picked up the phone again only to hear the secretary say,

“I guess that is a ‘yes’, Mrs. Juneau.”

I was mortified; Rachel’s head was covered and another daughter saw a bug crawling on her forehead in a mirror at school!! I get itchy just remembering Lice Week. Of course, the school assured me that lice like clean hair but that did not reassure me at all. In the end, all Rachel’s siblings had at least a couple of nits. No one could return to school until they were completely lice and nit free.

Do you have any idea the work that faced us?

In those days health nurses and doctors told us to wash all bedding, favourite stuffed animals, throw pillows, afghans, towels, combs, hair brushes and hair accessories, hats, mitts, scarves, sweaters, clothes, pyjamas and house coats and finally both sets of snowsuits (the good set and the farm set). In addition, it was necessary to vacuum Chesterfields, chairs, rugs and anything touched by a head of hair. Those directions amounted to almost 60 loads of laundry! I filled a bathtub almost to the ceiling with stuff I had to wash. I solemnly swear, I do not exaggerate but that was not the hardest job in the next few days.

I had to wash ten heads of hair with awful smelling shampoo, then comb out every nit with vinegar and a special fine-tooted steal comb. Are you familiar with the saying, ‘oh quit nit -picking’? Well, it takes on a whole new meaning after you’ve tried to pull every sticky nit off single strands of hair on eleven heads.

So what does a slightly paranoid, overwhelmed mother do? She arranges everyone according to age and size to simultaneously check each others’ head. At least that helped with the more obvious eggs.

However, I was given a wonderful gift. A couple of my kids became expert nit pickers. The best nit pickers were the detail oriented offspring, who were slightly obsessive-compulsive; I grew to treasure that particular weakness during the next couple of weeks because one overlooked nit could explode into hundreds of offspring in a matter of days. Now that could cause a nightmare!

I wished I could say that this episode was the one and only “Battle of the Bugs” our family endured but kindergarten classes are notorious hotbeds for lice; the kids are always head to head examining something utterly fascinating with friends.

At least the next time lice hopped on a Juneau head we were battle ready.

13 thoughts on “Those Bothersome Bugs

  1. Hey there, I found you via the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

    Me personally, I am a huge tea tree oil fan. Even though I do not have any kids myself, I do have nephews and a niece who sometimes have the lice.. I put my sister onto the Thursday Plantation tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner which you can get in pharmacies in Australia and she uses that for the kids now – zero lice since, even when those notes go home.

    I use essential oils in my laundry too – usually citrus but tea tree is right there waiting and sometimes, I just feel like the smell of that in the laundry so I use it instead. Anyways, enough of my boring tea tree tales.. 🙂

    As part of NaBloPoMo I try to comment on as many participating blogs as I can, and I add participating blogs to my feed reader.

    So I’m just dropping by to let you know I’ve added your blog to my feedreader, I’m reading you loud and clear, I have a link up going at my place so my readers can find participating blogs which you are more than welcome to add your blog link to.

    Looking forward to seeing your posts, and you’ll likely see me drop by again during November.

    Happy NaBloPoMo to you!


  2. Ugh!! We had a scare shortly after the twins were born and I don’t think I was ever that scared in ALL of my life. I didn’t see any bugs and used Listerine as a just in case. It was by the grace of God that they didn’t have any I can assure you.

    When I grow up, I want to be more like you Melanie.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The day after I rode the bus on the 3rd grade field trip, we got a message that someone in the class had lice. Not fun, and I itch thinking about it. My oldest brought home scabies from the pro-life trip in Washington, D.C. several years ago. It was terrible! For weeks before #8’s home birth, I washed everything in hot water, vacuumed twice a day, and prayed they were gone. Fortunately, we survived and #8 was born at home without my midwives getting scabies! They were troopers, that’s for sure!


  4. OMG! I was just talking to another mom at my daughter’s kindergarten about lice. I am so paranoid that she will bring it home and I will have to go through the the procedure. I was given an advice to brush kids hair every couple of weeks with the lice brush for prevention, I don’t know if that will help or not, but I went and bough the brush.


    1. years ago, a nurse told me that her mother rinsed their hair with a vinegar rinse and they NEVER got lice. A bit of vinegar in a jug of warm water is a cheap detangler. It also helps unstick the nits which seem to stick like glue to each hair strand


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