Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Head Lice Nit Wit

Son Number One came home from third grade yesterday with the school district’s boilerplate Head Lice Notification in his backpack. Normally, we just scoff at the head lice notices and throw them away. We have never worried about lice because our kids don’t have enough hair to support them. We shear our children like sheep. Their hair is usually never longer than an eighth of an inch. As far as lice are concerned, our kids have the human head equivalent of the Sahara desert.

We have become lazy, however, and have not cut the boys’ hair in quite some time. Their hair is well over three eighths of an inch long at this point. Not exactly 80’s rock band length, but certainly enough coverage to support a louse. So this time, I actually read the letter. The first few sentences were entertaining.

There has been a case of head lice in your child’s class recently. Don’t panic! Head lice are common among school children and are a common source of frustration and DO NOT reflect health or house cleaning habits.   

Hmm… In this participant trophy society of ours, a notice about a parasitic infestation starts with, “Head lice aren’t a gross parasite that come from filth. They are just an everyday nuisance that come from nice clean homes like yours.”

Yeah, I don’t think so. While I will grant you that a kid from the cleanest home in the world can come home from school with head lice, I would challenge the idea that ground zero for a particular festival of lice was anything less than squalor. There’s a reason that de-lousing is one of the first things they do to the new inmates at the prison.

Reading on, I discovered that louse eggs are called “nits.” Is this where the term “nitwit” came from? No telling. (If only there were some sort of internet-based search site that could be used to research that question. Alas, no such luck.) Nits, the handy notice tells us, are not at all like dandruff.

Unlike dandruff, the nits or eggs will not easily flake off hair…

That’s a good point. Another important distinction between dandruff and nits that I can think of off the top of my head (get it?) is that the nits are BLOOD-SUCKING PARASITE EGGS!

The notice then goes on to give us tips on what to do if lice/nits are found.

Step number one: Clean everything. Hmm... After applying the special lice shampoo that probably smells like a mix of gasoline and Wild Turkey, and carefully removing the nits with the special metal comb, you are instructed to:
Wash clothes
Wash bedding
Vacuum carpet, furniture, and car seats

Wait a second... You started this friendly notification letter by telling me there is no connection between lice and home/personal cleanliness, and now you’re telling me to clean everything? We may not be controlling our parasite infestations very well, but at least we all have high self-esteem. Here’s your trophy for showing up to the game, kid.

Then the notice stopped being subtly humorous and just came right out with the laughs.

If you find lice or nits please notify everyone who your child has been in contact with.

Hmm… Everyone? Luckily, we are lice-free, but had I actually found any, that notification process would have been a little tricky. Just in the last week we’ve been to the school, the store, the ball fields, the church, the park, the other store, the restaurant, the gas station, the other restaurant, the other store, and the city-wide fun run. If you were at one of those places then you were in contact with Son Number Three, the kindergartner, at some point. He’s like the Tasmanian Devil, whirling from place to place in a shouting cloud of dust. Consider yourselves notified, North America.

After reading the helpful notice, along with having higher self-esteem, I also experienced a renewed sense of work ethic. While I am sure that laziness is not a common trait among lice-breeding households, and therefore I DO NOT need to feel guilty in any way, I have decided to get off my duff and cut the boys’ hair anyway.

Luckily we don’t have any lice to deal with, but I liked it better when I didn’t even have to read the notices.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. HAHAHAHHAHAAA........" We shear our children like sheep...."
    smart parent is smart.

    BTW: Nits up close, microscope up close? Just DON'T....Really DON'T.

  2. Thanks, r/b. I will now try to refrain from Googling nits... Dammit. Too late!
    My eyes!!!

  3. I would just like to know where first the louse came from in the first place. We were not born with a louse on her head. If it is a human parasite where did it come from? They say it does not come from the ground or trees or anywhere else but I hardly believe that some magical egg grew on your head and became lice so where did that louse come from?

  4. Easy question. It came from second grade.