Here’s nittyyyy!

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum

Follow Claire Smith's Mothering Heights on Twitter @MinistryOfMum - Credit: Archant

My kids have got head lice because it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a child in possession of good clean hair, must be in want of nits.

I have just spent the majority of Saturday afternoon making my children scream. Nits are like children when they’re in torture mode but ten times worse. They are annoying, stubborn and defiant.

The only way to deal with them is to make your children suffer the lotions and the combings which in some ways is great payback if they’ve been misbehaving, but for the most part usually makes your own day more painful. Because, let’s face it, nits do not make it easy for parents.

They are your worst enemy more than any toddler who refuses to eat, more than any ten year old who is moaning about homework and, heck, more than a daughter who is getting her hair brushed.

Nits exist for the sole purpose of making a parent’s life hell.

If your child is of school age then they’ve probably had nits.

And if they haven’t, be warned, they will.

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This might send you into a panic so you start taking steps to prevent the lice, but it’s not that simple, because not all parents do their due diligence at home.

And the way I see it, not much is being done about them in general. Nitty Nora is a person banished to the past because of all the new regulations that don’t even allow teachers to apply sun lotion and plasters. Even if the Nit Nurse did exist, there are some parents that wouldn’t allow it. Notes come home, but a note cannot make a parent treat their child, and so the problem continues.

Okay, so head lice aren’t serious and they’re not diseased, but when your kids have got them, it feels like the plague. You’re half expecting other parents to paint a red cross on your door and torch your car because even in this day and age there is still such a stigma surrounding nits.

Which is strange because they’re so common in junior schools.

Nits can’t jump or fly or swim but they know that kids have no physical boundaries.

They know that kids play closely and are always up in each other’s personal space. They know that little girls don’t always have their hair tied back and boys like to rugby scrum.

They are also aware that no matter what you tell your child not to do, it’s always the first thing they will do once they get into that playground. Kids just can’t resist head butting each other, especially that one kid you’ve asked them to stay away from.

Today it cost me thirty quid in nit-busting products because I was so determined to get rid of the buggers. That money is about two weeks’ worth of Starbucks so I damn well made sure those nits were gonna pay.

Hasta La Vista, Nittys. I also bought a bottle of gin because I knew, as soon as my kids caught sight of the contents of my bag, they would start screaming and running and going completely ballistic at the thought of what the next hour would entail. But I’m fortunate because I had the money to buy the stuff.

The girl next to me at the counter took one look at the prices and legged it.

Which I wasn’t surprised at, because at £17.99 a bottle, it’s really hard for some families to find that money. There’s going to be a lot of considered ‘wealthier’ kids with nits, that’s fo’sure.

(I’m even wondering, in a conspiracy theory kinda way, if these lotion making companies are keeping nits in the system so they can make their millions.)

And, in my opinion, this whole child benefit cutting isn’t helping. In fact I’ve vowed that if I ever run into David Cameron, I’ll damn well make sure I give HIS kid a good dose of the nits.

On top of the applying, washing, combing and practically bleaching of three children’s hair, I’ve had to clean all the bedding and towels because even though I’m not the OCD type, I can’t help thinking that the little bloodsuckers are stronger than the Twilight vampires.

They’re sneakier than my kids around the snack cupboard. And, boy, they might be tiny but they’ve got a determination that outstrips any child at bedtime.

There is a positive side, however.

If your child has nits it’s a fantastic excuse to stay at home if you fancy a day off from the school run. You can also get out of most social engagements, especially birthday parties, by the mere whisper of the N-word. It can even stop that annoying family from next door popping in.

In fact, because you can’t really see the creepy crawlers on your kid’s melon, you can actually make it up if there’s a certain place you don’t fancy going. It’s also a great excuse not to do the special love.

In addition, if your kid keeps nagging for a rabbit or a puppy, you could even go as far as keeping a nit as a pet. Just stick one in a matchbox and Nit’s Your Uncle.

Pretty low maintenance as far as domesticated animals are concerned. No tray to clean, no food to buy, what’s not to love?

There is light at the end of the nitty tunnel though. Lice don’t seem to like hormonally charged teenagers. They keep well away, as most things should. But in the meantime, your evenings and weekends will at some point be devoted to exterminating the little buggers.

Nit zapping is the new going out, apparently.

You’re probably itching now.

May the scratch be with you.