Once Kiedis gets home and settled from school you can usually find me digging through his teeny bookbag, looking for the latest from his teacher. There's a steno pad that goes back and forth between us to keep in contact about his progress and such, and often at the end of the week there's art he's made or flyers about events or just whatever, stuff for the parents.
Yesterday was no different, with me searching through the spare clothes in his bag for the steno pad when I saw a white sheet of paper folded up. I retrieved it, curious as it looked kind of important (flyers are usually on colored paper, but official stuff is on plain white) and I took it to the kitchen with me while I rounded up Kiedis' lunch.
I was not prepared for the very first sentence.
It was a letter informing me that one of the kids in Kiedis' class has lice.
Except the way it was worded, it was easy to misunderstand as it being MY CHILD who had lice.
I audibly gasped and cupped my hand over my mouth, horrified.
I'll be honest, I'm not really sure how kids get lice. I know it spreads easily and quickly, but as for how that first kid gets it I really don't know. I'm vaguely aware it's a pain in the ass to get rid of and that the longer your hair is the harder it is to get rid of them, and while it's not quite to the invasive level of bedbugs (gag) it is still fairly disgusting and skeevy and EWEWEW.
It took me reading to the bottom of the letter (after reading through what needs to be done to eradicate the pests and how my kid could be kicked out of his program if we don't handle the situation quickly and properly, so I'm extra panicky at this point) to where it said the nurse had checked Kiedis that day and he had NO EVIDENCE of lice in his beautiful golden locks that I went back and slowly reread the letter.
While I was greatly relieved, a part of me is still unsettled. I know this happens, kids get weird shit and spread it to each other and for some people it's a rite of childhood.
I've never had lice.
And I never plan to.
It was just a flash of something Kyle and I talked about before enrolling him in this program, the chance of Kiedis contracting something undesirable just from being in the same proximity of children whose parents perhaps don't have the same standards we do. It sounds terrible, but Kyle knows from experience teaching the older siblings of the kids in this program that when you combine old houses and slightly-above-poverty-level living conditions, you have less than desirable breeding grounds for all kinds of disease and squalor. And those things will attach to children first and come to school with them and despite the best efforts of families to avoid these things, all it takes is one lacking kid and everything goes to hell in a handbasket for a while.
And it just takes me to a bad place in my head, where I realize we work really hard to provide a good life for our kids sort-of despite where we live. We know it's going to affect them one way or another, but we hope to make it in a good way, like in an appreciation for diversity and for varying socioeconomic levels and for making the best of what you've got. We're hoping to avoid the more ick factors of living in the urban landscape, like the pervasive depression and less emphasis on education and the simple things like mother effing lice.
We're suburban kids at heart, and we want our kids to grow up with a lot of those same morals and values and it hurts my heart to know that as long as we're here they'll be around kids who won't aspire to those same standards -- for my kids and for those kids they'll grow up around.
Everyone deserves the same shot at life, and that includes practicing a certain level of hygiene so that things like lice or bedbugs or fleas or whatever won't interfere with the rest of your life (and the lives of those around you) so everyone can concentrate on learning and cooperating and such instead of buggy scalps and exterminators and such.
I just don't want to have to deal with lice because other parents can't bother to bathe their kids on a regular basis. I don't think that's unreasonable, even considering where we live. I don't see poverty or low income status as an excuse for poor hygiene. That should be a priority for everyone, especially when you're the caretaker for small children because (a) they can't do it themselves and (b) they need someone to teach them how. I know some kids are very aversive to baths and teeth brushing and stuff but I don't agree with just letting your kids be dirty because it's easier than fighting them to be clean.
YOUR KIDS SHOULD BE CLEAN, NON-NEGOTIABLY. How else are they going to learn they have value and worth if you can't be bothered to pay attention to their basic needs? If they want to be gross smelly adults that's their choice, but when they're in your care you should at least make sure they bathe quasi-regularly. That's part of this whole "parenting" job we all signed up for as soon as we welcomed a child into our lives.
Crisis is averted for now, but for the next two weeks I have to check his scalp regularly and wash everything in hot water just in case. That alone frustrates me.
But it's better than him actually having lice, so I guess I'll take it.
Doesn't change I've got the itchy skeevies now. Ick.
UPDATE: I've been informed that apparently lice is not a hygienic issue like I had thought. I'm sorry to have made the incorrect assumption -- that's what I get for not double checking myself and researching first. Bad sociologist, bad. Sorry if I offended anyone by this rant. Still not stoked about having to take all the steps "just in case" there are lice that have been brought into our house, which DOES require a shit ton of cleaning and having to go get special shampoo and whatnot and I swear if this results in needing to cut/shave Kiedis' hair to get them gone HEADS ARE GOING TO ROLL. But anyway. Sorry about my misunderstanding.