Being awake at 4 am is boring. As I lay awake in the dark listening to P.F’s gentle snore, I tried to relax every muscle in my body, but to no avail. My mind began to fill with those great thoughts that stop you going back to sleep – somehow, the night magnifies simple things and turns them into stomach-curdling obstacles.
After almost turning myself inside out in an effort to repress a long series of sneezes, my nose started running. That was it, time to get up. I gingerly negotiated my way down the staircase in the dark, hoping that Rugby boy’s mummy radar wouldn’t pick up on my early morning movement. As I stumbled across the entrance hall, smelly dog’s basket creaked then resumed silence: a sure sign that it was too early to get up, even for our resident canine.
Yesterday morning had been so much more fun. Rugby boy had sidled up to me at the breakfast table and stuffed his finger under my nose, asking “Mum, is that a head louse?” Yeurch. It was. I stuck his head under the shower, grabbed a fine-toothed comb and attempted to run it through his thick locks (this is where I thank my maternal grandmother for her contribution to our great capillary heritage, wonderful most days but a nightmare when inhabited). After three swipes, I told him: “Son of mine, you have several generations of the same family on holiday in there, complete with buckets and spades, caravans and ice boxes. They’re having a cool time. But not for long”.
Five minutes later I marched into the chemists, flustered and dishevelled. I have a gift for always ending up with the assistant who doesn’t smile, no doubt to conserve her wrinkle-free complexion and perfect make-up. Her nose did however wrinkle daintily when she saw me approach the anti-headlouse artillery, and she withdrew to a safe distance. “Can I help you?”
“Ur, yes. I’d like something extremely chemical and bad for the planet to nuke all the lice on my son’s head into oblivion”, I said, hoping to get a smile out of her. I shouldn’t have bothered: someone had already eaten her porridge before I arrived. “How long has he had lice?” emerged from tightened lips. I stared at her in disbelief. “I have no idea, they didn’t tell me when me met at the breakfast table this morning, and as his head is European, no one stamped their passports on arrival”, I snarled back. I grabbed three boxes of the most dangerous looking product, slammed them on the counter, paid, and bolted home.
The following two hours involved oily slimy goo, nit combs and appropriately impressed “ooohs” at the huge quantities of louse cadavers we recovered from the capillary equivalent of Piccadilly Circus during the Christmas shopping rush. Then followed the stripping of beds, washing of pillows and quilts, vacuuming of mattresses…..
Happily enough, after a minute examination of her scalp, Little My appears to have escaped the same lousy predicament. I threw a bottle of potent goo on my head, and have been itching from the allergy ever since.