Wanna move a little further away, Cranky (twitch)

All this talk of lice makes me itchy.

I got lice back in sixth grade.
That was 1962.
People didn't get lice in nice suburban schools in 1962.
But I did.

I kept telling my mom I was itchy, but since I was a known mosquito feast, no one listened.
(Once we were camping out while traveling, and as we waited for breakfast at a diner my loving family counted over a hundred bites on my arms and shoulders.)
So of course I was itchy.
It kept getting worse and worse, so finally I found a test tube with a top (of course  we had test tubes sitting around the house, doesn't everyone), and I caught about a dozen beasties and presented the sample to my mother.
(Who was busy packing to leave on a European vacation alone with my dad the following week — Mad timing skillz, I haz them.)

Having been a pre-DDT child, she recognized the contents immediately.
After all, in the twenties her mother used to greet her at the front door after school with a fine-toothed comb before letting her in the house (all those kids from the wrong side of the tracks…)
So my folks called the school.
The school, with a grand disregard for biology, suggested that, filthy child that I was, it was my fault that I had somehow spontaneously generated lice.
I should stay home until my parents cleaned me up sufficiently to consort with other, decent children again.
Part of this was stupidity: they had never had to cope with the problem before, and  just wanted  it to disappear.
Shut up the complaint,and the problem is gone, right?
Part of this was that my parents did absolutely nothing in the way of school involvement, so the administrators literally did not know who they were dealing with.
There was a massive PTA status system my parents had ignored,and therefore they had no standing in the parental hierarchy, and, at least theoretically, could therefore be treated rudely.
But it was a stupid move.

My dad, the doctor, made a second phone call.
He sent in his colleagues from the county Health Department.
Even though the school itself had a nurse on staff already, they sent in an outside visiting nurse that same day.
She inspected the entire school, and sent home fully three quarters of the students AND teachers.
She reported directly to the county.
And remained on-site to inspect and okay the returning heads (students and staff).

None of this much helped me in getting along with my hideous sixth-grade teacher.
Nor with getting along with my second oldest sister, who ended up having to fine-tooth comb me in the bath tub repeatedly over the new few days after my parents left.
Looking at it now, I have a fair amount of sympathy for her – she was about 18, and it was icky.
But I wish she hadn't made me feel as if the ickiness was me.

So when Sarah picked up lice – I think from the seats on Amtrak – I tried keeping it low-key.
We took a lice vacation from classes and combed each other with the stereo blasting.
It was almost fun.

You can get rid of lice without any pesticides at all.
You soak your scalp in vegetable oil, wrap it all up tight in a towel for about an hour.
(You are suffocating (you hope), or at least immobilizing, the adult beasties.)
You then shampoo the oil from your hair in a long, hot shower.
As your hair dries, you, or a buddy, flea comb your scalp, paying close attention to getting the entire length of the hair from the scalp out.
Do a small patch of hair each time, sectioning the hair and trying to cover your entire scalp.
If you do with over a piece of paper, you will see if you are getting any lice or nits.
Continue to comb, as often as you can stand it, until you find no nits at all.
(You shouldn't need re-oil the hair, unless you are still finding adults.)
Then you comb about four more times over the next week or so, just in case.
Sarah and I caught the infestation early, and the basic combing only took two days, maybe six or seven comb throughs each.
I did follow up on us both after that, but didn't find anything.
Oh,and launder all the cloth stuff in hot water, and wrap unwashables in plastic and store for a couple of weeks.

I gotta go wash my hair.

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13 responses to this post.

  1. Lauo, your parents are a force to be reckoned with! Great story (except that you had to get lice for it).


  2. *dons surgical gloves before approaching the keyboard*Awwww — (((((((((hugs))))))))) Being in 6th grade is tough enough……I have an antique nit comb — my Mom kept it.OK — hang on. 6th grade in 1962? We must be the same age, or a year apart. I was in 6th grade 1962/1963. Yow. *removes gloves and gives lauowolf a sturdy handshake*


  3. I am giving this "a favorite". The husband just took a job where he is going to find himself amongst homeless youth and the mass transit system. I might need to know how to oil him down. I swear…if he brings home bed bugs or lice he is going to stop saving the world one child at a time and get a job in a liquor store or something…


  4. You two had a great solution to the lice problem. Hopefully I won't have to worry about that::knocks furiously on wood::, but I'll know who to talk to =)


  5. And of course the ironic thing is that lice like clean heads much better than dirty ones, but I'm sure that stereotype will never disappear.My nephews suffered through a bout of lice once, and my sister ended up with a few. For the kids, it was easy because at the time their hair was quite light in colour, but my sister's is dark and curly, so she had a bit harder time getting rid of them, although luckily, as I say, she only had a few. I visited them shortly afterward and wouldn't put my head anywhere near the kids' heads. They were young so I felt kinda mean, but I'll be damned if I was gonna get them – lol.


  6. gaaaaack! and bedbugs! who mentioned bedbugs? my neighbor & I were just talking about bedbugs, after finding clusters of aphids on the plant out front between our houses.
    even my feets itch now….


  7. Lice ewww but the oil solution works really well.

    We only had one scare… my youngest was in day care and some kids got it and they thought they found a nit on her. it may have been the only one but we washed her hair first as Hubby went to pick up the poisen stuff but the nurse on the phone said don't use it unless you are sure she has them .. she told me sometimes when a day care gets a case they start seeing them where none are. so we washed and picked through her hair. none to be found. and it could have been really bad as at the time she had to long(to her butt) thick blond hair. Thank goodness none were found.


  8. That's some exposé on lice infestation and treatment. And right there's the beauty of blogging — all the stuff we get to learn from fellow bloggers that we might never come to learn otherwise. Thanks for the story and information. I hope I never need it.


  9. Yowza. Good for you with the test tubes. Good for your dad and the school nurse. Your sister – I have sympathy for, I have to admit, I was the oldest and always got stuck with jobs like that one. … .; )


  10. Oh Noes!!!!!You're gonna get aphids!We'll have to dose you with lady bugs!


  11. I think it's taken care of, the BFFN's hubster is a landscaper who knows all about this stuff. I think most are gone already, whew!


  12. Mother used to terrify me with stories of her childhood in the wilds of New Jersey. She and her brother would go swimming in the rural ponds and come away covered with leeches, happily drinking away.
    How patient and mature you are, addressing a particularly nasty problem in such a calm fashion!


  13. leeches…shudder.


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