Thursday, March 03, 2011

suddenly, i feel very itchy

Tonight, I received the e-mail, below, from our children's Principal.

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Dear Parents and Guardians,

I am sending this e-mail because head lice have been identified in your child’s classroom/grade level. Although head lice do not transmit any diseases, they are, nevertheless, a nuisance and can cause intense itching and discomfort.

Anyone, regardless of personal hygiene habits, can contract head lice. Head lice are spread either by direct contact with a person who has head lice or by indirect contact with personal belongings such as infested caps, scarves, clothing, combs, brushes, stuffed toys, etc.
Itching is a common sign of lice. Adult head lice are very small and hard to find, but their eggs, called nits, are much easier to see. Nits are small, white, oval sacs, no large than the head of a pin, that firmly attach themselves to a person’s hair. Though nits look like dandruff, they do not brush off easily. It takes a special, very fine-toothed comb to remove them from hair.

It is important that you continue to check your child’s head closely for head lice or nits. If you find head lice or nits on your child, please seek treatment for your child promptly, take the necessary precautions at home to inhibit re-infestation, and notify the school.

Your cooperation is appreciated.


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I'd like to take a moment to ponder the origin of the word, "nit."

Nit –noun
1. the egg of a parasitic insect, especially of a louse, often attached to a hair or a fiber of clothing.
2. the young of such an insect.

Origin:
Before 900; Middle English nite, Old English hnitu, cognate with Dutch neet, German Niss, Norwegian nit

I wouldn't be surprised if the word "nit" came about when a parent (or guardian) was combing through their young child's hair and noticed that it was full of tiny white eggs and they said a word that they then had to quickly modify.

"Mommy? What was that word you just used?"

"Huh? What word? Oh, that word? I just said, 'Oh NIT! NIT, NIT, NIT!' sweetie."

Neither Charlie nor I can recall ever having head lice when we were kids. Surely we were exposed to it, so I wonder if it's possible that our bodies emit some kind of super scent that deter the little buggers and if so, if that lice-repelling ability has since been genetically passed along to our offspring? Gosh, I sure hope so!

If our children came home with head lice, I think it would be the exact antithesis of winning the lottery.

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  11. BlackOrchid3/4/11, 9:25 AM

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