Striking Fear in the Hearts (and Heads) of Teachers Across the World


#sol19-February 5, 2019

Sunday I got the email. I might have ignored it, but the smart mom must have known that, because in the subject she had her daughter’s name and “important information”, so although I have already been burned once this year by opening a parent email on a Sunday I broke my new (unwritten) rule about opening such emails on the weekend. Little did I know…

Let’s be honest- there are many subjects you might prefer not to read about, but one little word struck fear in my heart- and the word? You guessed it- LICE!

As I read on I noted the mom had done everything right- treated her daughter, combed, retreated, combed more, and was on a rampage to clean everything in the house. But the power of the word is so strong that across town my head was itching. All I could think of was all the extra work there would be if I had lice- no mom here to lovingly treat my hair and comb nits out- it would all be on me. I wrote a sympathetic email to the mom, forwarded her email to the school nurses, and scratched my head, while I contemplated the extra chaos that lice would bring in the morning.

C. showed up at school in the morning and I had her check in at the nurse. The students were not going to be in the classroom for lice checks when the nurses could check them all until after lunch, but I snuck in a quick check for myself while the kids were at snack. In spite of my itchy head, I was clear. The mind is a powerful thing and I am easily influenced when it comes to doom and gloom. Here’s the thing, any time I hear the word “lice” I itch- I know that. Every time one of my students has lice I am convinced I have it too. So far (knock wood) I have not had them. In my head I know really they are not that big a deal (and no reflection on cleanliness), but all I can imagine how much of a hassle it would be to really eliminate them- especially since I have not owned a clothes dryer for about 12 years.

The students took the lice check in stride- many had prior experience. It revealed two other students had lice-ugh! The first girl still had them too. By then it was too late in the day for the notice to go out, so today all elementary parents were notified about lice and the two sets of parents got personal notes informing them of what the nurses had found. Of course, my head is still itching and all day long I was worried about sitting too close to students, skeeved out by picking up hairbands, and all the other paranoid things I do whenever students have lice. After school today I got a hair cut, so my hairdresser gave my scalp another look and so far I am clear. But that does not mean I will relax.

So far the lice seem contained in our classroom-but a colleague had me laughing when she relayed that one of her students thought they were having a mice check. Hopefully, it’ll e over without too much spread and I hope the lice know how unwelcome they are. Scratch, scratch, scratch.

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