Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stop the shame!

For some reason Mr. H. and I were discussing head lice (or nits as he calls them). I know it's not very romantic valentine's day talk, but, well, we're weird. Anyway, we were recalling the horrors of our childhood when there was an outbreak of lice at school. I remember in first or second grade the school nurse checking everyone for lice. They sent notes home with everyone to let the parents know. Because my mom worked, my sister and I would go to a neighbors house after school. They read the notes and wouldn't let us inside the house. It wasn't cold outside (we lived in Texas at the time), so it wasn't like they were making us freeze or anything. But I remember the feeling of shame and indignation. My sister says she doesn't remember this at all (of course she would have only been four or five at the time), and my mother says we never had lice and that she never treated us for it. Now we may not have actually had lice (after talking about it last night with Mr. H., I did a little research and found that many of these so called "outbreaks" aren't as bad as the teachers and school nurses believe, and that lice is actually pretty hard to spread, and they don't live anywhere else except on a person's head for very long - all of this isn't in the louses favor) but I remember mom washing our hair with that awful shampoo and using that special lice comb. Maybe I'm making it all up, or maybe my mother has forgotten. The point is, I've always thought it was terrible of these people, our babysitter, to make us stay outside because they thought we had lice. I felt dirty and bad - even though research has shown that even if we did have lice, it wasn't because we lacked hygiene or because of our socio-economic standing. Sure, by all accounts, it's a gross thing to have. But when will adults learn that kids internalize that kind of stuff? It stays with them, and more than 20 years later they still think about it and write about it on their blog. I'd like to let this, and the numerous other things that still haunt me about my childhood go, but I just can't seem to. Sure, maybe it's shaped who I am as an adult. Maybe I'll be more sympathetic to the child who gets sent home with lice and will be able to, in my own small way, stop this circle of shame. Please people, don't children have enough to worry about than if they are dirty or bad because, through no fault of their own, they may have contracted head lice? Let's all join together to stop this silliness, and focus on the important childhood maladies - like pinkeye.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Matt really had lice. It was bad. You should talk to him. He'll feel your pain.

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