this week i have come up against the epidemic bane of any elementary teacher's existence. head lice. those creepy crawly bugs that, once introduced, can spread like wildfire. we have done battle this week, and though the crawlies have won the preliminary battles, i will prevail!!
it started tuesday. i come back to school in the evening for a pta meeting and one of my coworkers informs us all that she found them while she was tutoring one of her students after school. bugs, everywhere, poor girl. anyway, the school gives us all lice shampoo, we tell the parents, and in the morning we check all the kids (as well as checking ourselves for the third time). everyone is clean. great. we take everything soft out of our rooms and go on with our day. then the nurse comes in the afternoon to check everyone again. all those kids we thought were clean, yeah a couple of them have eggs or bugs. unfortunate, but still containable. the teachers, according to the nurse, are fine.
apparently the nurse was not as well-versed in the ways of lice as we would have liked to think. i'm sitting on the bus on the way home, with ms. jenna behind me when i hear "oh my gosh, kim!" and feel her grab my ponytail. "are there bugs?" i ask, guessing just by the gasp and the tone in her voice. there are. and they're moving. jenna grabs the ones she can and throws them out the window while i call my vice principal to let her know i won't be coming in to school tomorrow.
and, mostly, i'm pretty calm. it's not until i start to be able to legitimately feel them that i start to get a little uncomfortable and wish the bus ride was a little shorter. it's disconcerting to have someone confirm that that itch you feel is in fact a small parasite crawling around in your hair. i do, however, wish i could have seen them crawling around in there. just out of curiosity.
so of course i go home and shower. and then make my roommate check my hair again. and i check hers. and we both check my other roommate's. multiple times. and we all can't help but laugh because we feel like little monkeys grooming each other. i had no idea when i got here just how close i would get to my roommates and coworkers. it's kind of incredible, really, how much we have learned about each other in such a short time.
at any rate, while the shampoo that i have seemed mildly effective yesterday, it is proving to be beneficial over time. i think i'm pretty much clean. i would check, but i'm still developing the eyes in the back of my head, so i must wait for someone to get home. for the moment i am just enjoying my day off and trying to figure out how to deal with the mountain of bedding and laundry in my room. it is times like these that make me really wish we had a dryer. turns out lice will survive a good washing, but can't take the heat. oh, china.
and perhaps this is one component of the reason the states are so anal about student-teacher relationships. i always assumed the caution about touching your students was a PC thing, but that is the main way that diseases spread. in such a big system, i can see how they would want to be cautious about it. that said, i think PC reasons carry more weight than germ-spreading ones. but this at least makes me feel a little better about life.
update: i am clean once again. the chinese lice shampoo proved to be very effective and i managed to boil my clothes and sheets in the sink, in lieu of a dryer. it was an interesting weekend. i'm glad to be past this hurdle. as one of my friends put it, i have now been hazed into teacher-dom. i think i'm legit now.