Monday, 17 October 2011


Tonight I went out in the evening for the second time since I adopted. It felt very strange going out in the dark. I went to a parent teacher evening. I felt so grown up. I remember my mother going out to meetings like this when I was a child. Everyone looked half my age, even the headmistress, and they all were so confident with their opinions and feisty attitudes. 

The main topic, other than fundraising, was an outbreak of nits. I quailed as they described how it is totally impossible to get rid of them without comb: X's hair is impossible to comb, either the hair, the comb or our tempers or willpower breaks. The hair is as fragile as our tempers, yet is also curly as African hair. I have literally never managed to get any comb the length of the hair and we survive by teasing, fluffing, smoothing and rumpling. A three-quarter of an hour conversation has made me an expert on nits. One mother actually put them in a bug-box (what's that?) and ran an experiment to see how long they lasted alive on the hair. There was graphic description of the need to actually break the eggs open. There was invective against hoodies where they might linger in the fleece. A disagreement over whether bedding needed to be boiled following an outbreak ended in polite disagreement. One mother clearly harboured resentments against: "some mothers, who just don't care, and don't do anything about it at all." This made a mexican wave of nodding go around the room.  "It's always the same children who bring them back, We All Know Who They Are..." said another mother, provoking another Mexican nod-wave.

Discussion was held about how the shampoo and combs might be bought in bulk and it was suggested that: 'maybe the free school lunch-lot' might get the combs free. Much emphasis was made on the fact that it wasn't the free-lunch mums who were the wicked slatterns who didn't comb the hair, it was others- We All Know Who They Are. It was agreed that a relentless programme of texts, letters and leaflets would be drawn up.  Apparently there was a time when school nurses would send home children if they had nits. The nit -warrior mums were keen to hot-foot it into the school to inspect all the children ( no doubt we great attention on some- We All Know Who They Are) and send home notes if they found any. The headmistress looked a bit worried: "you would have to ask for permission to inspect the children," she muttered," one has to be so careful...." The nit-warrior mums also had no truck with the idea of organic treatments and considered only the strongest chemical treatments did anything. A sheep-dip on the way into school was mentioned, I think it was a joke...One teacher admitted she had nits at the moment and the ladies on either side of her looked discomfitted. 

I went home scratching my head and wondering about setting up a little nit business. Apparently the combs are a tenner and the shampoo twenty quid. Someone is making a pile on the little blighters.  Another thing to start saving for. The only down side of the business plan is that, apparently nits do no harm whatsoever and only even itch if you are allergic to the eggs, so all in all they sound about as harmful as the bugs that supposedly live on our eyelashes and eyebrows. But I'm quaking for the future. I don't want to be considered one of "those mums." I think the only plan for X will be to shave the lot off as if she is the heroine of a war story or Audrey Hepburn in 'The Nun's Story' but it will be a shame, her hair has never been cut and it is still is only a couple of inches. There was one lady there with a muslim headdress on. I nearly plucked up the courage to ask her if that was a preventative device. Maybe that would be the answer for X. Other than that she will just have to be bald, there is no way I can bear the shame of being "one of those mothers, We All know Who They Are."


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