Nit a problem

Another parenting milestone reached yesterday. The invasion of daughter’s head by tiny, bloodsucking parasites. Her school was closed due to the teaching strike, and although I was panicking slightly at a day lost to short story writing, I had plans for a lovely Mummy and Anna day instead.

It started well. We’d been asked to take cake contributions for the eagerly anticipated Parents’ Strawberry tea this afternoon, so we spent the morning happily making and decorating butterfly cakes. Anna was also full of chat and information about ‘Going Up Day’ the day before, when they’d been into their new classroom to meet their Year One teacher. It was brilliant to be able to spend the time properly listening to her, without feeling that we had to rush to be somewhere else.

I’d then booked a hair appointment to try and deal with the Boris-Johnson-crossed-with-haystack situation which had arisen since her last haircut in the Easter holidays. That was where the problems started. The lovely hairdressers we use have a standard policy of checking children for unwanted visitors before they cut. We’ve never had a problem, but yesterday, as I was chatting away to the hairdresser saying “Oh, I do check her hair, but she’s never had them, so I’m not really sure what I’m looking for”, when he pointed and said “That’s what you’re looking for”, as a small brown sesame seed crawled across the nape of Anna’s neck. I have a serious parasite phobia, so started majorly freaking out, while trying (and probably failing) to maintain calm and dignified demeanour for the sake of Anna and the hairdresser.

Having had my own hair checked (so beyond the call of hairdresser duty, but I think they were fearing for my mental health), and been declared clear, we set off to wage war on the minibeasts. Via a stop for lunch in the cafe. I felt slightly guilty, but reasoned that a) they are only spread by direct head to head contact, b) she’d probably had them for weeks, so another 30 mins wouldn’t make that much difference, and c) It was bad enough having to give up our plans for the afternoon to trek to Boots in the pouring rain without doing it hungry as well. I ordered sausage and mash for two – comfort food seemed to be in order, and all was going well until one of Anna’s classmates turned up with her mum.

“LILY! I’ve got NITS!!!” Anna bellowed across the crowded cafe. People began looking askance, whilst edging their chairs away and simultaneously scratching their heads. Public humiliation aside, we had a very nice lunch, and were suitably fortified for the trip to buy super toxic killer lotion which I could proceed to smother my firstborn’s innocent head with. Kind of undermines buying organic milk really.

Actually applying the lotion was relatively painless, and then, arrayed in this season’s must-have look of insecticide mousse with close-fitting hat we sallied forth to an angelic friend’s house for a playdate. She plied me with sympathy and homemade lemon cake, fed the children, and provided me with ingredients for my own dinner, as in all the nit-kerfuffle I’d forgotten I needed to do some food shopping.

The lotion was to be left in overnight, and washing it out and then nit combing her hair through this morning was much less pleasant. Anna was not a fan of the proceedings, and was fairly vocal in expressing her dissatisfaction. She also repeatedly declared “I want my Daddy” – presumably, although this wasn’t specifically articulated, to protect her from the maternal torturer. We have to repeat the treatment in a week’s time, and I can’t decide whether to make my husband do it, in order to salvage something of Mummy’s reputation and prove it’s not just something I’ve callously taken it into my head to do for my own amusement, or whether to preserve her psychological health and not feel that both parents are out to get her and she’s left without a support in the world, by doing it myself.

Our morning didn’t get much better. I coaxed a semi-hysterical child to get dressed and out of the house with the enticement of the Strawberry Tea party this afternoon. Only to arrive at school and find it has been cancelled due to the bad weather. Anna really was inconsolable this time, and I left her crying, but valiantly trying to compose herself. I was overwrought and hormonal, torn between feeling so sad for Anna’s disappointment and furiously angry with the school, the weather, the gods, whatever forces had conspired to upset my precious girl. I didn’t think I’d get any decent work done until I’d calmed down, so decided to make good use of the time by going to the EE shop to try and find out why my phone isn’t working properly. Only to discover a handwritten notice saying it was closed ‘due to staff sickness’. I mean, come on! It’s a multi-national chain with thousands of employees, surely it’s not beyond expectations that they actually manage to open their shops at the published hours?  I consoled myself with a little retail therapy – possibly my least exciting purchases ever – some new tennis shorts for husband, and Vosene tea tree nit prevention shampoo for Anna. Yay.

Finally I got to the cafe to do some work, but in reality spent the morning posting my woes on Facebook to elicit some cyber-sympathy. It actually worked a treat, and, although social media gets a bad press very often, I can’t think of another source of so much instant warm sympathy, sage advice and witty replies to cheer and console. I feel loads better already, and, when I’ve put another friend’s ‘eat Dairy Milk’ advice into action, I’m sure I’ll be back to my normal self.

The long and short of it

It’s a bit of a funny time at the moment. After a few months of pregnancy-induced exhaustion, where not very much at all got done, my energy levels are starting to rise again. That’s probably just as well, because my third book isn’t going to write itself, I still want to promote To Have and to Hold wherever and whenever possible, and in a moment of madness I suggested to my agent that possibly writing an e-book short story might be a good idea. She and my editor both agreed, so now that has found it’s way onto my to do list as well. Over and above work things, I also want to try and catch up with friends I’ve pretty much ignored since April (apologies, by the way, if you’re one of those), and it turns out that being mum to a Reception age child at the end of the summer term is pretty much a full-time job as well.

In the next three weeks I am helping out on the Reception school trip (120 five year olds going by bus to the park in forecast temperatures of 26 degrees. What could possibly go wrong?), attending Sports Day, Parents Evening, Reception Strawberry Tea, finishing the Family Literacy Course I’ve been attending for last 8 weeks, and very possibly having the pleasure of an extra day of Anna’s company if the NUT strike as planned next week. Hard on the heels of all that is a six week summer break, when, with the best will in the world, I can’t see much writing happening.

I reckon I have eight days of Anna-in-school time, when parents are not expected to attend for any reason, left before the holidays. Chances of me knocking out a 20,000 word short story in that time?