A Day In the Life

It’s All On Your Head. I Mean "In". It’s All In Your Head.

As the cold weather approaches, you know, in the back of your mind, they’re coming. In the warmer months you managed to have forgotten about them, but now as the air is chilling, the noses are running and the, um, hands are scratching, it all comes barreling forward to occupy your every thought. It starts out innocently enough; you spot a little scratching here and a little itching there. Then it escalates to a few overheard whispers in the hallway. You wander past the nurses office and notice an unusual increase in traffic. But you don’t think too much about it because you don’t recognize these kids; they’re not your students. And then it happens. You’re taking attendance one day, and when you get to little Susie, her classmates blurt out, “she’s in the nurses office.” “Oh, okay,” you reply. “She…” the students begin. “I don’t need to know why,” you explain, for the millionth time. But they finish anyways, “… thinks she has head lice.” You freeze, your hand hovering over your clipboard as you’re about to mark poor little Susie absent. Head lice? HEAD LICE?! You frantically scan the students seated in front of you. Did that kid just wiggle? You catch something out of the corner of your eye. What was that? You whip your head to the left convinced you just saw Timmy scratch his head. Your eyes get squinty as you study the little squirming, bug infested, rugrats in front of you. Reluctantly you proceed with class, but you’re watching, oh yes, you are watching, and waiting, waiting for the itching that doesn’t quit.

It starts with a little twinge. A small little tickle on the top of your head. You automatically scratch it, with barely a thought. But then it happens again, and you know. YOU KNOW. It’s got to be lice. You replay your day over in your head, panicking and wondering, “Did I hug any kids today?” “Did I bend over when I helped them?” “Did I let my head get too close to theirs?” Did I let my head get lower than theirs?” “Lice jump up, right?” You try to stay calm. Act normal. Carry on. You try not to let the kids see you scratching. You ignore the students’ stares as you try to help Billy draw from across the classroom, with your pencil attached to a 10-foot pole. “What? This is how I always do it.” Geez, kids these days. They don’t pay attention to anything.

As the clock ticks away, you wonder why little Susie hasn’t returned to class. You wonder why the nurse hasn’t called, asking you to start sending students down, two by two. Finally, the students’ teacher shows up, but Susie is still nowhere to be seen. You ponder whether or not it would be professional to inquire about her. Then you silently curse the teacher for not even thinking that head lice might be something you would like to know about. You kick yourself for not getting that haircut you’ve been meaning to get for weeks. With visions of tiny combs and special shampoos, you head home at the end of the day, your scalp tingling with paranoia. Later on in the bathroom you’ll carefully sift through your hair, strand by strand, searching, fearing, but dammit! The sink is in your way and you just can’t quite get close enough to the mirror. As you crawl into bed, your mind boggled with the thoughts of laundry and vacuuming, you wonder if you should visit the nurse yourself the following morning, just in case, and let her pick through your hair with her chopsticks of judgement. As you turn off your light, you can’t help but think, “I bet real professionals don’t have to worry about head lice.”

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10 thoughts on “It’s All On Your Head. I Mean "In". It’s All In Your Head.

  1. Rachel says:

    I've been there MANY times! I even had the privelege of combing through girls' hair, picking out the suckers one by one at a summer camp…I think it took an entire year for me to stop being paranoid that I had them! Just the other day, I was subbing, and three kids from the class across the hall where I was were sent home with lice…I won't be going back to that school for awhile!

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  2. We deserve hazard pay. My husband in his architectural firm never needed to worry about head lice, or kids who don't flush toilets, or who poop their pants, or whose clothing smells (and looks) like it hasn't been washed in weeks, or who pick their noses and then touch all your stuff, etc. And of course its the dirtiest kids who want the hugs the most. In my school we've been teaching these needy kids the “side hug”.

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  3. Been there,done that! Had a past student, his family was always infested,the poor thing got his head stuck in his hooded sweatshirt one time, picture this…I'm trying to talk a 6 year old through getting it off without touching him! Any other child I would have physically helped them! I felt so guilty but there was no way I was touching him!

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  4. I once had the pleasure of helping the school nurse pick through kids' hair while I was student teaching… she needed volunteers, I needed to look good to try to get a job at that school (I didn't, blah). I have been fortunate enough to not get lice, but I did get scabies from a student once! I don't know which is worse. :/

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