Friday, May 1, 2009

Spring is in the Air/Lice is in the Hair

Okay, so technically it's autumn down here, but it's still that time of year... the time every parent dreads, the time when typed memos come home from school detailing that head lice is running rampant, how to treat it, etc. Before I continue my story, however, there are two things you need to know:

1. At South African schools, they are NOT allowed to send a child who has head lice home, as that could cause "emotional damage" by causing the child to feel "singled out." (In the U.S., however, call us insensitive, but we'd rather deal with emotional damage than head lice, so children are sent home until the lice has been effectively treated.)
2. The headmaster at my children's school loves documentaries and nature shows. Hence all of his memos have that National Geographic on Location feel....

Okay, back to my story. So the memo comes home, the weight of its contents being lessened somewhat by the sheer entertainment of reading said memo ("Head lice are small parasitic insects about the size of sesame seeds living mainly on the scalp and neck hairs on humans where their legs grasp onto hair shafts. They derive nutrients by blood-feeding once or more a day for about 30 days. They cannot survive without ready access to a person's blood.")

Where's my pith helmet, my mosquito net and my skottel braai? I'm ready for Survivor: African Government School Edition. ("Lice are grey or flesh-coloured and not easily visible. They become reddish-brown as soon as they start feeding. Head lice do not imply a lack of hygiene practiced by their host.")

I lined my kids up, military-style, and did the obligatory lice-check. Fortunately, my children are lice-free... for now. But if and when those "grey or flesh-coloured parasitic insects about the size of sesame seeds" take up residence in my house, I have an excellent memo that would almost - almost - make treating head lice fun.

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