Few experiences in parenting highlight the similarities between humans and other mammals more starkly than scouring your child’s head for nits. Images from David Attenborough documentaries flash through your mind as you wonder quite how undignified things can get.
Well let me tell you in one word: threadworms. That’s how undignified it gets. Peering closely at your child’s self-proclaimed ‘itchy bottom’, or gazing at their freshly deposited stools looking for signs of life takes some beating in the ‘surely this is not my job’ stakes. A parent’s role has many wonderful aspects, but this is not amongst them.
Previous to our first nit infestation, I wondered naively if I would recognise these pesky invaders when I saw them. And then when a large adult nit fell onto my eyebrow whilst driving to the beach one sunny Easter day, I realised my worries had been misplaced. They made their presence known clearly enough!
But worms….they were a revelation. I struggled to keep the horror from my voice as I told my then 4 year old child that yes, there did appear to be small creatures in her bottom.
And once you have discovered the presence of these unwanted guests what next? Is there some easy, fool proof method to rid your household of them forever? Ha! As if!
Let’s take nits for starters. There are many, many nit treatments and many, many types of nit comb, but however great the claims, all routes lead to the same unhappy conclusions: that you will need to spend miserable hours dragging a comb through the head of a wriggling, complaining child. The most recent infestation in our house ended unhappily with my eldest child screeching insults at me because the comb spiked her neck as she reared away from it. But I have begun to realise that there can never be amicable dealings with those small beasts and their unwelcome offspring.
But treating worms should be easier right? A one dose tablet or liquid and they are gone for good. Well, yes….if you can get the required ‘one dose’ into the parasite-ridden members of your household. Our first worm attack (what a pleasant list of firsts this is turning out to be!) ended badly when, after a trip to the chemist for a 4 pack of worm tablets to treat the whole family, we soon realised the error in our treatment of choice: Chewable tablets. Chewable foul-tasting tablets. Chewable foul-tasting tablets that we were expecting our two small, reasonably fussy children to digest without complaint.
We held our breath as child number one managed to chew down her tablet grimacing and complaining, but we had no such luck with child number two. Not known for her readiness to bend to the will of others, we knew this would be a tough one, but we were hopeful
…….but as we were liberally sprayed with the remnants of an orange chewable tablet, we had to face the depressing reality: the various small creatures that appear to delight in making homes of our children, are pretty resistant to destruction. The parasites are here to plagues us for some years yet, I fear!