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We just shaved our heads


Was it because Baby Boy is so cute we wanted to look like him?

Was it because we have become monks of some persuasion?

Is Penang really hot, and we thought it would help?


No, no, and again no. We just wanted to get rid of the nits.  Nits in all our hair, itching and pooing. Reproducing like rabbits. Leaping from head to head. Surviving underwater. Oblivious to hatred.

We’ve all had them, for four years. Which correlates exactly with the amount of time that has passed since our children first were enrolled in school. Hmmm

You might think fleeing the country and shaving our heads is a bit drastic. Let me tell you we’ve tried every potion the chemist could offer. We’ve tried orange juice, peroxide and the vaccuum cleaner. We’ve tried conditioner. olive oil, gel and sunscreen. We’ve tried washing and not washing. Short hair and long. Every brand of fine-toothed comb.

Shaving works.

Its hard to believe, there is not a nit to be found in the whole family. Astonishing. They’ve been part of our life for so long. We kind of gave up on getting rid of them, and developed a  kind of policy of benign contempt. Every cuddle is accompanied by a quick forage in the hair. Every hair brushing involves a quick check “I want to go Mum; just get the really big ones at the front’

I’m no evolutionist, but I occasionally feel an orang-utangian connection, as I sit grooming my children. Sitting together. Bonding. Non-verbally communicating our care for and care of each other. I don’t actually eat the little pests. But I do enjoy the satisfying crack of the eggs between my fingernails.

An impending sleepover means we make a real effort, and whip out the conditioner and fine tooth comb. Four years ago, the children would scream and rant. Now its just part of life. During school term, we combed weekly. “Mum, I’ve done my teeth and packed my lunch, can do do my nits?”

Maybe the nits are almost part of the family. Snowy asks if they all know each other, seeing as they are cousins. Meena says her’s live on a nit farm, right at the top of her head. Tintin says his tickle him, and go abseiling on his hair.  Sparky can’t stand them, they itch at night and drive her up the wall.

Baby Boy has even had a few. Not bad for seven months.

They’ve got us into a bit of trouble over time. I’ve long since stopped caring, but the first time I was called to school to collect a child on account of their nits, I was mortified. Now I just laugh at a school that bans children with nits as a ‘Occupational Health and Safety’ issue, yet piles four year old children, three to a seat, in dodgy old buses without seatbelts.  I drove them to every excursion.

Ironically, we are now in Asia with no nits, and plenty of seatbeltless dodgy buses.

What we do have now, is time. Let’s say I spent 30 minutes per child, per week combing hair. Over four years, we’ve spent 416 hours combing nits. That doesn’t include arguing or bribing, or buying potions or washing linen or collecting the nits and their host child from school. I doesn’t include combing me or Chris. We’ve done our time at school thankyou very much!

My first thought, to which any reader who is a mother will relate, is that 416 hours is a lot of naps.  Far out, I could have done with a few naps.

Or, I could have used the time responsiblly, like cooking quadruple meals and freezing them. I could have gone to the gym 416 times; imagine how fit and strong-tummied I’d be. I could have done 416 hours of therapy with Sparky, about three months’ worth!

I could have learned a language….or an instrument……or done half my honours…….

Anyway. Now we all look very odd, we can stop carrying the clippers around, AND we have kids who can say “My mum let me shave her head and it was COOOOL!!!!!!”


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