I got the text message. One dreaded by every parent of school-going children, the one message that strikes fear into the heart of every teacher, that this is happening in their classrooms.
It was a long weekend. We were in the midst of discussions about weather and ideal spots for a picnic etc. All shattered by the content of that one short text message.
I was shocked! My child involved in this type of thing was unthinkable. But we cannot dictate who their friends are …. And friendship is a dangerous and beautiful thing. They say, it’s always the company they keep, in these cases. I began to think of all the playdates we had last week, and wracked my brains for signs of any tell-tale behaviour. I could remember nothing.
Then my mind began to spin, what about my older daughter? Surely, not her too. This was so awkward and embarrassing especially when they are older. And what about her friends and their parents? Had they found out? What could I possibly do? And how do I keep this news from family and friends…. Or should I actually be telling them rather than hiding it, so that they are alert too?
There are traditional, gentle ways to resolve these issues but they take time or stronger, more immediate treatments – chemical, synthetic and harsh. Even so, could the problem really be solved? I sat inside mulling this over, wondering how to break it to my husband.
Outside, it was a warm summer evening. Everyone in our street had their windows open, children played in the street; skateboards, bikes and footballs lay strewn in the front yards with abandoned dolls, dinosaurs and toy trucks. Teenagers dawdled on their way home, neighbours chatted over fences, and usually I would have been out there too.
Then, I heard a car pull up in our drive and my youngest scream excitedly, “Daddy! Daddy! Mummy says most of my friends and I have LICE ….. and NITS- that’s the lousy eggs! Can I keep them in Snowball’s cage?”