The insects are taking over

The insects are taking over

Male human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis.

“Only two days to go until the end of the week,” I greeted daughter two on Thursday morning as she rolled over in bed and groaned when I tried to wake her up. “Yes,” said daughter two, who has a calendar by her bed with the word “Friday!!!” in bold, “but then it will be Monday again and I’ll have five days to get through.” She is a girl after my own heart. I spend all week waiting for Friday and then by 11pm am already anticipating Monday. Daughter one was still asleep, having managed to be up bright and early the first three days and listening to The Beatles. So far this week, I’ve overslept twice, we’ve been late for school once and almost late three times, which means we have not been on schedule once. Usually our punctuality deteriorates as the term progresses so I’m not optimistic.

We’ve also got nits after a two-year hiatus. I think I had grown a bit blase about the nits and, though I did see a note in daughter three’s bag at the end of term, I decided on a quick [ok, very quick] inspection and Q & A about itchiness that she was ok and then got on with Christmas. It was only when the cat developed fleas and only son was scratching his head that I twigged something was up. I googled ‘fleas in hair first’, thinking it was too much of a coincidence to have nits and fleas at the same time, although maybe they are cousins or morph into each other in certain circumstances. I learnt some rather worrying things about fleas, but nothing to suggest fleas could shape shift into nits.
I spoke to my mum. She thought only son must have nits and said she had already taken preventive action. She had seen him scratching at new year and wasn’t going to wait for the evidence. The trouble is only son scratches and bounces and generally moves all the time so it is hard to know if it is nits or fleas or a Just Dance routine. He has already taught the Wake me up before you go go dance to his best friend at school and mentioned in passing that he had shown a teacher how to “walk like an Egyptian”.
I googled “differences between fleas and nits”. They basically look the same unless you have a microscope, which we don’t. I thought we were on top of the fleas. I have spent the last week fumigating the house, washing stuff and treating the cat with the expensive stuff from the vet’s. In fact it turns out that we have fleas and nits. What are the chances of that, huh? When I say we, the nits are mainly daughter three, who didn’t even scratch her head once over the holidays, mainly because she was too busy sneezing. I suggested to my partner that we organise a party for the fleas and the nits so they can get to know each other. I am not sure if fleas like nits or vice versa. Perhaps they are deadly enemies and our house has been the scene of a massive microbe war. My partner thinks I have become slightly obsessed by small creatures. This is because he is bald and never gets nits. Plus the fleas seem to have avoided him. He claims that the fleas are racist. I think they are misogynists.
As soon as she heard the word nit, daughter two, who is prone to melodrama, wrapped her head in a coat and refused to go anywhere near daughter three. Only son, who appears to be taking lessons from daughter two in drama, howled the place down before I even got the nit comb near his head. “I do NOT like this,” he sobbed.
We are now, I think, nit and flea free, though slightly more knowledgeable about small insects than heretofore.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Photo credit: Wikipedia.

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