You know how occasionally you wake up and feel like everything is OK? There are clean pants in your underwear drawer, school runs are done, healthy dinners are cooked and eaten (mostly), homework is completed without tears actually falling (admittedly there was a lot of welling up, but nothing reached the cheeks so that counts as a win).
Generally speaking, life is drifting comfortably along at its own pace – sometimes manic, sometimes teeth achingly dull – but drifting nonetheless.
Then it happens…NITS. Bastard, bastard, bastard NITS. As a household, we have somehow managed to get to the 10th year of children in the house without having to deal with them thus far, but now…BASTARD NITS!!!
I was fondly stroking the hair of my eldest, when suddenly something moved beneath my fingers. Now, as a mother, I have had to deal with many different disgusting challenges over the last decade. I am convinced that the ridiculously long and uncomfortable gestation period for human offspring, combined with the general indignity of giving birth and everything that goes with it, (What? Medical student wants to have a look at my vag? 12 of them, you say? Fine, the more the merrier…) is actually Mother Nature’s way of preparing you for the shitstorm you have to deal with once they’re out.
Worms – that was a thrill when the youngest first got those. “Mummy, what are all of those wiggly bits of cotton in my poo?” I felt like a bit of an idiot for booking an emergency doctor’s appointment for that one…but nobody talks about worms, so I had no clue you just took a shot of banana flavoured gunk from the chemist each and moved on.
Poo, vomit, bogies, bad breath – nothing compares to the dreaded nits in my book. They are so all consuming. Everyone who hears about them immediately starts scratching and can’t stop for hours afterwards. All I could see every time I closed my eyes was their tiny jaws chomping itchily away on my beautiful boy’s scalp.
On the advice of the biweekly school communication NIT NEWS, I combed through the children’s hair with a comb in the bath with plenty of conditioner. This was not a task that could be completed without some quite frankly, ridiculously girly high-pitched squealing from me. Also, the gurning that was going on every time I got another one out was getting very Les Dawson-esque. It literally sent shivers down my spine and made my face contort with disgust with every new revelation.
The advice was to repeat every couple of days to get out the newly hatched baby lice. LICE. Ewwwwwww. So we did. The next time I found one, it was time to bring out the big guns. Sod you airy fairy bastards with your conditioner and long baths. We needed chemicals and we needed them STAT! After over-preparing the boy for the eye stinging horror of the chemical nit treatment, it turned out to smell like nothing more than the conditioner we had been using all along.
However, all was well. The nits had been “chemicalled” and the worst thing that remained was the mound of duvets, sheets, blankets, pillowcases and stuffed toys that had to be washed, tumble dried, frozen or at the very least, isolated in an airtight bag for 4 days.
All stuff that I could deal with. Not a lot of room for anything else in our lives for a few days, but at least those harbingers of doom had been defeated. Or so I thought…
It turns out that the nice smelling nit repellent was a little too pleasant. They were back! Within 2 weeks of the first batch, the second wave was marching its way through the boy’s hair again. I was having none of it though – they clearly didn’t realise who they were dealing with. If they were going to bring it, then so was I! Back to the chemist I went and this time paid 3 times as much for a branded mousse that was so expensive I could probably have sued them for damages had it not worked.
Armed with the reassuringly expensive, supercharged chemical cocktail, we coughed, spluttered and eye-watered our way through the application and left it in for 5 minutes more than the requisite “kill-zone” time, you know – just to be sure. There were a satisfying number of instantaneous deaths, followed by some Oscar worthy dying crawls through the fizzing mousse, but I was happy that we had done the job properly this time.
Now throughout this whole process I had myself been itching constantly, but I am itching now writing about it and will probably be doing so for many days to come. I kept getting people to check my hair and was picking through the bum length hair of my daughter like a monkey about every 30 seconds until she nearly cried with annoyance, but had found nothing.
I was using one of those grim white nit combs which conjured up memories from my own childhood - excellent at ripping my hair out by the roots, but didn’t bring a single louse to light. When the Nit Nepalm was purchased, it came with a steel comb which I swear looked like part of a torture chamber kit and I absent-mindedly dragged it through my locks as I was tidying up the bathroom. I can still feel the horror of seeing the wriggling beast on that comb. It actually made me feel physically sick, but luckily there was enough of the nuclear chemical concoction to service me as well.
Soaking my hairbrush in boiling water in the sink, I stripped off my clothes at lightning speed whilst shouting “ewwwww” and “bastards, gits, bastards”, much to the amusement of the kids. In my rush to kill the foul insects, I failed to notice the cat sneaking past me into the bathroom during the application (more swear words, and lots of jogging up and down on the spot with disgust.) What’s the problem with that?
Nothing, if we hadn’t installed a cat flap in the back door (finally) the previous week, fully expecting her then to revert to pooing in the back garden. She, however, decided that even though her litter tray was no longer located in the bathroom, it was indeed still the place to do her business and had done so on several occasions – hence the need to keep her out of the bathroom.
So as I turned away from the mirror to bin the now very empty can, I was confronted with a shitting cat, who (and I don’t know if this is every cat, or just ours) cannot be moved once the poo has been started. No amount of shooing, waving, shouting or even poking can distract her from her business.
That was a bad day I’m not ashamed to say. A head of hair full of stinky chemicals, 4 loads of washing, a freezer full of cuddly toys and a big shit on the floor. At least it wasn’t a wee I thought, ever the optimist. And then she did a wee. Luckily, the towels were already going in the wash…