kids

"I took nits all the way to Italy."

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What’s worse than your kids having nits?

Other people pointing out to you that your kids have nits.

I have some new family members. My brother has a new partner and I now have a brand new sister-in-law, and my kids have two new cousins.

Here are some things I know about my new sister-in-law: She’s got an infectious, inclusive energy about her. She’s smart, and uber-capable, and looks great in a bikini. She’s an excellent mum. She makes my brother happy.

And she can spot a nit at 100 paces.

Yup. That happened.

Listen to me and Andrew Daddo sharing the head lice story on Mamamia’s podcast about family life, here: 

I’ve just been on a dream family holiday. The kind that only happens a couple of times in your life. The kind that you plan and save for for years. The kind that makes you check your privilege and know that you are one lucky, lucky bastard.

The kind that illustrates to you just how indestructible head lice are.

Last school term, my kids had nits every second week. The letters kept appearing in the schoolbag. “A particularly resilient strain,” they’d say. “Look out for eggs the size and colour of a chia seed,” they’d say, revealing a great deal about our neighbourhood in a two little words.

And I would do what they told me. The slather-on of the cheap conditioner. The endless comb-out. The shower-cap of chemicals. But the buggers kept coming back and back. The scratching of heads became so ubiquitous in our house, it became our signature dance move.

How do you like the treatment, Dad?

And then we went off on the dream holiday, to visit the family old and new. And it was wonderful. Something that the head lice predicted, because they hitched along too, only to be discovered when, in a picturesque Italian valley, sun glinting off the olive groves, my new sister-in-law lent across my son's moppy blond head and asked loudly, "IS THAT A NIT?"

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It was a nit. And there was another nit. And another. The non-parents among you probably don't remember what head lice look like. They look like textbook creepy, crawlies. And grown-ups, any kid can tell you that reason they make you itch is that while they are sucking the blood from your scalp, they inject some of their saliva into your skin, and you are allergic to it. You're scratching at creepy-crawly spit, kids.

Hello, my little friend... 

With six children on the trip, Summer peace instantly erupted into a frenzy of shrieks and head-checks, of accusations about which of my two children (by association, my daughter was also assumed infested. T'was true. She was) had used the other kids' hairbrushes. There was a mad dash to separate towels and hot-wash hired-holiday-house sheets.

And so it was that I sat in a chair in the glorious European sunshine while a woman I'd just met, and whom I had hoped to impress, combed through my hair for signs of blood-sucking lice. Bonding, or humiliating? Take your pick.

And so it was that I spent an afternoon of my dream holiday wrangling a borrowed nit comb (very organised woman, my new sister-in-law) through my children's conditioned hair over and over while they protested, loudly, about why they weren't swimming with their cousins.

And so it was that after a solid day of de-lousing, I was admiring my son's bouncy over-conditioned locks in the glare of the Italian sunshine when my sister-in-law's fingers swooped in from nowhere, again. "There's a NIT!" And we started all over.

Yup. Nits: Hard to kill. Harder to live down.

You can listen to the whole episode of This Glorious Mess, including the fail-safe lessons of how to tame a pre-school boy, here:

SUBSCRIBE to TGM on iTunes or listen on the Mamamia Podcast App, available to download free at iTunes or GooglePlay. 

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