Saturday, August 18, 2012

Avenue of Misfit Children

I've seen lice before. Once, when I was working up to my "beauty school drop-out" status, I saw a whole head crawling with them. Swimming, in fact. I'd seen a few other lice--or, rather, lice children, in the years since.

Lice children? You know, Lipnicki kids, those poor children with the buzz cuts who remind you of nothing so much as mean, neglected junkyard denizens. Not a FAIR assessment, I know, but it's what always leaps to mind when I see young kids with buzzed hair. I think "mean" and I think "dirty." Too many years living in a town where those stereotypes were all too often true.

You'd think, then, that when my boy's head started itching, I'd have known. Rather than saying, "We'll get you a new shampoo," I'd have LOOKED at his head. But I didn't. When all the ratty, awful kids in this neighborhood suddenly started sporting buzz cuts, you'd think I'd have caught wise. But no, again, I missed it. You would certainly hope that, when I pulled the live bug out of his hair I'd have realized what was happening, but no. No, I missed it then, too. I figured he'd picked up a bug while letting the dog outside.

In fact, it wasn't until we found the second and third bug (the third was crawling on my back after our boy had rested his head on my shoulder) that I began to catch a clue. At first, I feared bed bugs--see, we'd taken a small out-of-town trip a couple of weeks before. Closer examination of the bugs (including the first from a week or more earlier, which I had saved in a bottle of water because I'm strange that way) revealed them to be lice.

Oh, my goodness.

My first response? Revulsion, of course. I took a good look at my child's scalp and, sure enough, he had nits and adult lice. My second response? Rage. Rage because the neighborhood boys who had spent the night at our place just a couple of weeks before had shown up that night sporting brand new lice cuts. Sporting the lice cuts and saying NOTHING about having lice. Instead, they just rubbed their heads all over our sleeper sofa, our pillows, our sheets, our chairs, and our SON without giving us an ounce of warning.

Who does that? What PARENT sends their kids over to someone else's house when they know they've got lice? It's not like they didn't know--these kids had longish hair that they were obviously quite proud of, and then WHAMMO, it's buzzed to less than a quarter inch. That's a clear lice-related buzz cut. But not word one of warning to us.

So, what to do now? That is the question. What if these parents think a buzz cut is enough or they rely on some silly home remedy and they forego the permethrin shampoo? What if they just pick up MORE lice? How many lice episodes am I willing to suffer through before I say "ENOUGH" and stop allowing them to hang out with my boy? The kids in this neighborhood are scary, awful, and--well, and awful. Someone just sent me a youtube video of three of the local kids bashing about a rodent with baseball bats. These two, the lice-bringers, are the best of a really bad lot, and if we drive them off, our boy has no friends on the street. What a mess!

I don't know what to do. Just as I was at a loss when the small-animal-killing rat child across the street started stealing from us every time he was in our house, just as I was at a loss when our boy's best friend suddenly dumped him with no explanation (turns out it was a mixture of our lack of religion and our vigorous condemnation of small-animal killing--we didn't know at the time that he was part of that), I'm at a loss now. Do I just accept lice as the price we pay for these kids being our boy's friends? Do I offer them some RID shampoo and help them use it? Do we approach their parents and say, "Yo, did you know your boys have lice?" I swear, some of the parenting disasters we've had to face here have been SO beyond anything I thought I'd ever have to deal with. Avenue of Misfit Children?  Avenue of Misfit PARENTS is more like it.


  1. Ohhh, sorry. My niece went through this when she was in elementary school. She was denied a haircut because of nits, and when they talked to the neighbors, it turned out they had lice too. After going through the RID and nit combing, she got her hair cut, but later, more lice. More RID, more nit combing, later, more lice. Turned out the neighbors, who were nice people, were using a home remedy (vegetable oil, I think) that was NOT working, and so they kept reinfecting her with the lice. This went on for maybe a year. I do not know what finally did it, the neighbors were on the other side of a duplex so I don't think they could have just stopped having all contact with them. I will ask though and see what they did.

  2. See, that's my fear--constant re-infection. I'll use the permethrin stuff, but I don't feel good about using it again and again. Looks, though, like it's not an issue. Those boys have taken to hanging with the scary kids across the street, and, as a result, they've pretty much ditched our boy. On the bright side, he's loving Hapkido, we've taken up bowling again, and he's loving his new programming class online.