Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Some of you know we've been dealing with a fairly scary-ass (generic-style) parenting experience: nits and lice. I am loathe to type those words, but I feel the need to explode the myth. Plus, I need to vent. And then brag.

In brief, urban schools are rife with the problem. I mean, when I was growing up, no one had it. But now it goes around and around and it's very stressful, if ubiquitous. M managed to avoid it for 9 years. Since the summer, she's come down with it twice. The first time she caught it at camp. That episode was resolved reasonably quickly by the Lice Squad (no joke, keep this number on hand - best $250.00 I ever spent). The second time, recently, has been more difficult to quash. Not only was the case more advanced by the time we discovered it, but M's very silky, long and fine (yet plentiful) hair is extremely challenging to comb effectively. And then there's the fact that her hair is the same colour as nit casings (ooh, nice!). We've gone up and down, investing dozens of hours (a couple every other day) for the last month. And while we're sure the problem is licked, every second time she's checked (just to make it interesting), they find some kind of empty nit casing.

Pls. note: The vast likelihood is that it is simply a remnant of the problem we killed a month ago. And yet, every time they find anything of any description, we're back to square one on the "treatment" and hours of cleaning and worrying. Not to mention the mean (if prudent) isolation of our little kid.

Well, a couple of day's ago, on the heels of another nit-sighting, I lost it. I decided, unilaterally, unquestionably, we were cutting the hair off - and getting it coloured. Note: Less hair means less combing (if it manages to be inevitable) and nits can't really land in colour-processed hair - which is why mothers get them so rarely and daycare workers all have nice dye-jobs.

Before you suggest - as my mother did - that a) it won't necessarily resolve the problem and b) it will traumatize the child and c) only crazy Hollywood people have the hair of their children of single-digit age dyed - you live through a month of working 9 hour days, commuting, getting home, doing homework while making dinner, combing out hair of frustrated and tired child under fluorescent lives of kitchen for 90 minutes, checking your own hair, heat drying bedding, vacuuming furniture, boiling instruments and starting all over again 2 days later.

Seriously, it was the action of last resort.

M did not like to hear about the plan at first. There were tears. Then I reminded her about how we'd save hours a week in combing and finish this problem once and for all. She said she wanted blond hair. (Truly, I'd have said yes to pink hair at this point.) Over the walk home, our negotiations yielded tenuous agreement and a detente.

The next day, she brought her American Girl catalogue to the salon. She asked to look like Kit Kittredge:

Poor thing was itching like crazy under the plastic hair cover. All I could think was, if there's anything living on that scalp - it won't be for much longer! Then we had the moment of truth with the cut. M was very complicit having seen her fab new colour - which was not as blond as she would have made it a) because I felt that was unnecessary processing and b) because I'm not interested in Hollywood-style upkeep, nor do I think a 9 year-old should look like Marilyn Monroe unless that's the way God made her. FYI, this is her hair colour bleached 2 shades lighter - which turns out to look more strawberry than blond.

Shiny, shorn result...

That cute little face doesn't look traumatized. Don't you agree?


  1. M looks so good with her new hair!

  2. She looks adorable in that cute. And I lover her smile. Those dimples!

  3. Hey, she looks extra adorable! And those dimples . . . Seriously, the color is perfect with M's skin tone and I love the swinginess of the cut.

  4. oh she is gorgeous & her hair is fab!

  5. Oh, she looks stunning!!!
    How happy she is with her hair colour and cut.


  6. Oh the color looks lovely on her, and I didn't know that about the color. The lice thing is pretty common in most cities I think, including the small city I used to live in 10 miles south of here. I would have been nigh unto hysterical I think.

    I think a girl is never to young to learn the importance of a fabulous cut and color.

  7. I totally get the "do whatever" strategy for dealing with lice. At our new school, a parent actually sent out a great link for lice information (NOT one of those websites with odd alternative strategies, etc. nor one that makes you throw out stuff) which was ration-based and noted that ACTUALLY it is very hard to get lice from objects (one year a parent made a teacher toss all soft goods from the classroom including the 20 IKEA pillows I had donated. so pointless). this is a fab solution!!! she looks adorable!!

  8. Brilliant haircut and colour!
    So cute!!!

    I do however have good news and bad news for you on the nit front. The bad news is the casings/eggs always resemble the hair colour. The critters are very clever.

    But you do not need to pay out a ton on anything. All you need to do is cover the hair with conditioner and use the specialist nit comb to comb out the nits and eggs. Do this once a week after tackling initial out break and if possible don't wash hair for a couple of days afterwards as nits like clean hair not dirty. If there is an outbreak at school coat hair with conditioner and scrape back into a ponytail to prevent getting them.

  9. My eldest (10) is ready to cut her below-shoulder-length hair and likes M's style! My q: how does M like her long bangs on a daily basis? Does she find herself pinning them back?

  10. it's good to see that this story has a happy ending - look at that adorable smile, it's all worth it.
    i hope this puts an end to this frustrating issue.

  11. Gorgeous girl with a very grown up hair cut, I love it though xx

  12. M's hair looks gorgeous! What a great cut (sooooo much better than my own awful diy bob), and the colour is lovely on her :-)

    I was convinced we had lice the other day when a pest of a bird got into the house. Even though we didn't, I couldn't stop scratching..

  13. Y: Thank you! Of course I think she's a cutie but I'm biased...

    Monkey: Thank you. I like to say she gets those dimples from me :-)

    Miss C: Thank you. As I mentioned in my email, the bangs can be a bit of a pain, but the swingy lifted back is very easy and chic :-)

    Pink and Seeker: Thank you. She is very happy with the colour, though we did have a bit of a moment at school where a couple of friends were a bit mean about the change. (They apologized, but not till after she had a small nervous breakdown.)

    Mardel: Hysterical sort of sums it up. Though after a while I became resigned. Seemingly blase. But really just more quietly hysterical!

    Thanks Wendy!

    Margaret: That's a crime to have tossed those pillows when 30 minutes in the dryer would have killed anything. I'm so sorry to hear that. The hysteria can lead to some very impulsive reactions. I know, I started off with that mindset.

    Kate: Damn. They mock all the hair colours. Stupid nits. At any rate, we have done the conditioner comb-out so many times I dream about it. I don't actually think the nit killer works. I think the elbow grease of the comb is the thing.

    Mademoiselle F: Thank you. I share your sentiment entirely :-)

    E8: Nice to see you here. And I think she's quite chic for a nine year old :-)

    Fab: Thank you so much...

    Jul: thanks very much - and for stopping by.

    Iris: Your bob was great. As is your Mia Farrow cut. Excellent work. That head-itch (real or unwarranted) is a total bitch.

  14. omg!! She is soooo cute!! what a great cut AND her hair color is SO BEAUTIFUL!!

  15. My daughter saw this and said, "I want my hair cut like that!" so I'd judge it a success. She looks beautiful. Your ordeal sounds horrible; we've been lucky it hasn't plagued any of our schools (yet). May you have no more lice in your life.

  16. The architecture of that cut is superb, and M looks brilliant. What a beautiful girl!

  17. Glad to be back! Sorry I've been such a scatterbrained blogging friend. My life is starting to calm down now that I'm back from Mexico/sister's wedding. Now it's time for the holidays (sighs a sigh of desperation).

  18. Beautiful!! Oh how I love the color of her hair.

  19. jeepers, you had me scared there Missus!
    Nah, she looks fab.I am dying of fine undercut jealousy.

    And what it is with the constant re-infestation is that there are parents out there who do not do the big clean that you do. So those little guys just keep jumping ship from skanky untreated heads to your beautiful scalp.

    May they now pass Y by. xx


  20. Iva: Thank you very much. I don't think I've seen you here before - hope to see you again...

    Janet: I'll tell M - she loves to hear compliments about the new do. And I really hope this is the end of it. I'm still holding my breath.

    E: Thank you! It is a very architectural cut...

    E8: I hope we will see photos of the wedding!

    Stacey: Thank you!

    Hammie: I know, it's tough to be on one side of the "fix it" equation when others may adopt a different one. But I'm sure we haven't been popular lately :-)

    ~h: Thank you!

  21. All my other sweatshop chitlens are going to be jealous off M's stylin' new weave.

  22. Mattie: Ha! What can I say, she's got that special something. :-)