'School just went back and I'm already dealing with lice. It's time to bring back the nit nurse.'

It’s only week two of school for 2018 (in Queensland at least), and I spent last night treating and combing out head lice. Let that sink in. IT’S. WEEK. TWO.

And to add insult to injury, I’ve been tightly braiding her hair, spraying with the supposedly preventative spray, and then adding a protective helmet of hair spray for good measure.

It really isn’t a fun way to spend an evening as a parent, when you’ve still got lunches to make, laundry to wash, and dishes to do (because the dishwasher is broken and yeah, clearly 2018 is gonna be my year) and you just want to sob into the empty bottle of conditioner you’ve just used on your daughter’s rather long, parasite infested hair.

But, as I’m sure is the case with hundreds of other families, this is our life during the school year. I’m pretty sure the itchy critters have become resistant to the treatments, and I’ve hand-on-a-bible taken to spraying the insides of hats with Mortein before I chuck them in the wash.

Given it seems I’m one of the minority parents who bothers to treat their kids’ head lice, I’m considering just giving up and welcoming them to the family; maybe giving them names or something.

I don’t recall this being an issue when I was in primary school, and I think this is owed largely to the nit nurse. Remember the (admittedly, rather anxiety inducing) day when we’d all line up to get our hair picked through thoroughly, so anyone found to have head lice could be sent home with orders for their parents to treat that shit, and don’t come back until it’s gone?

Unfortunately with various issues surrounding parental consent and whatnot, the nit nurse is no more, and lice are free to jump from head to head, laying their eggs and destroying the souls of parents (mostly mums) who are left to clean up the mess.


LISTEN: Why are 6-year-olds begging for unicorn hair? We take a look, on our podcast for imperfect parents. Post continues. 

And look, I’m not a monster. I completely understand that there could be any number of issues preventing parents from treating their kids. From mental health and/or financial (some of the treatment products available are very expensive!) issues, to possibly just not knowing.

There are reasons. But at this point, if parents aren’t doing anything, doesn’t it become a community issue? Or do we just continue to treat our own kids while others put up with the misery of a persistently itchy, crawling, and irritated scalp – and the social exclusion that comes with it?

I truly think the nit nurse needs to make a comeback, funded by the government. But this time, she (or he, because blokes also have hands) should be supercharged; not just finding the creepy crawlies, but treating them too. In order to protect the dignity of the affected kids, they could “treat” everyone’s hair with conditioner and a comb through, so no-one need know who has or doesn’t have them.

Finish the job off with loot bags containing some sample treatment products, and some info for parents on preventing and treating lice, and it’s a fun salon day at school. Best of all, by treating everyone at once, there’s a better chance of eradicating the problem.

Surely it’s worth it to have children in class less distracted but itching, uncomfortable heads, and instead fully focussed and ready to learn?

BONUS: The nailed and failed of parenting.