It’s the four letter word that strikes fear into even the most seasoned of school mums. In fact, there are two four letter words so take your pick. N.I.T.S or, if you prefer, L.I.C.E. That’s a lovely one. Rolls around in your mouth so pleasantly. *insert gagging sound*. I can’t work out which one I prefer so I like to mix it up and use both. (And yes, I know they’re technically different things in the life cycle of this parasite but really, same same.)

I have a slightly irrational fear of nits. For me, they’re in the same category of disgusting as worms (not the ones that live in the ground, the ones that live somewhere else). Why have these vile creatures not become extinct in our hyper-hygienic society?! I wasn’t particularly traumatised by nits as a child, but, like all little girls with long hair, I remember being ‘checked’ and I remember that awful little metal comb. And I had really really thick long hair so it wasn’t a great experience.

So now that my son has started school, I knew it would only be a matter of time. But I didn’t realise it would be upon me quite so darn quickly! What are we, week 6 or something?? (I don’t know – feels like about week 84). But when I opened his note folder a couple of weeks ago there it was, the little typed rectangle of horror……

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As fate would have it, I read this about 15 minutes before I was taking him for a haircut so we quickly determined that he wasn’t ‘infested’ (gag). I resisted the urge to ask the hairdresser to shave his head entirely just to be sure. I also resisted the urge to ask the teacher who the infested child was – I know I can’t. But admit it, you always want to know right?!

So I have given myself a little pep talk and have decided I need to man up, or school mum up as the case may be. I remember when my first born child started daycare and the fear that struck me when I spotted the endless stream of kids with endless streams of snot pouring from their noses. I quickly learnt that this would become the least of my worries as we hit the hand, foot & mouth, gastro, croup and fevers circuit. A bit of snot was a walk in the park compared to some of the illnesses you deal with. So I’m presuming nits might be the same. Maybe lice is the snot of big school. SNOT – there’s another gag-inducing four letter word. (Although I’m hearing tales of constant treating and endless combing of little girls’ hair – ain’t no one got time for that!)

Oh, and if the mum of the ‘infested’ child is reading this, don’t worry, no hard feelings. I have no doubt that during my career as a school mum one of my kids will be the root of the infestation. Surely we all get a turn!

And yes, I scratched my head about 96 times while I was writing this.

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