Ok. Honeymoon’s over.
Readers of a recent post may recall me saying I wasn’t able to make a list of what I don’t like ’bout Bama. I’ve gotten over that hurdle.
I concurrently am fascinated and creeped out by the insect population down here: mammoth black grasshoppers and ants, moths,
fire ants, monster cicadas and their accompanying exoskeleskins, mosquitos mosquitos mosquitos, cockroaches (cockroaches cockroaches), spiders, millipedes, centipedes, shiny green metallic beetles, stick bugs, stink bugs, shield bugs,
and let us not forget lice.
I’m getting to know the school nurse pretty well. Third day of school I get a call. Won’t go into that one, but it was a minor deal and we’re all good. Three days later I get another call. She assured me it wasn’t an emergency and then proceeded to make small talk. Maybe that was her tell, now that I think back. After a series of pleasantries, she ever so gently led me into a discussion of head lice—that the boys were scratching in school, that Jonah had been sent to her to get it checked out, that she hadn’t found any at first on Jonah, that upon a more intensive search she did find live ones of various sizes, that nits had been laid and attached, that Gabriel was, at that moment, also being called into her office for a head check.
I hung up the phone and started the hot water cycle in the washing machine.
Of course I know that lice is almost a rite of passage when you have kids in school. I have since learned that Alabama (especially this time of year, especially this year in particular) is teeming with them. [I can’t resist the etymology here: Old English teman (Mercian), tieman (West Saxon), meaning to “beget, give birth to, bring forth, produce, propagate.” With lice, I’m learning that eradication is all about foiling the begetting.]
I have also learned that, on account of my sometimes-obsessive-attention-to-detail superpower, I’m pretty good at the whole process. There’s the cleaning, yes, but lice can’t live long without a live host, so there’s only so much that can be/needs to be done. I do a mean hair wash, come to find out. And when it comes to combing out the dead little suckers (post-pesticidal), I can part and section off and clip and comb with the best of them. I’m cursing the fact, however, that I cut my nails the very morning I got the nurse’s call, because mostly the only way to remove those damn nits is to isolate them to the hair strand they’re on and pull them off with your fingernail.
John’s exclaimed twice that I’m really good at the whole rigmarole. Thinks I should go into business. The closest lice removal spa (yes, that’s really a thing) is in Birmingham, and I hear it’s uber expensive.
Did I mention the cockroach that scurried across my sandaled foot in church this morning? I’m trying very hard to keep my #@*!-the-cooties reaction in check about now. But as I learned today, with roughly 10 thousand trillion (1016) ants in the world (That’s only ants!), how could it be otherwise? Avi Sternberg, in today’s New York Times Magazine article “King of Pain,” puts my ostensible predicament in perspective:
“The human conquest of earth is a recent and tenuous project; it would be more accurate to say that the planet belongs, as it always has, to the insects.”
Look at the time. Jonah’s due for his hair wash and comb out. I’m off.