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Sep 4 2014

Three Kids, Three Reasons to Dread the School Year

By at 9:30 am


Every September, from the time I was 8 until I was 17 (I skipped 1st grade and half of 2nd immigrating from the USSR), my mother would ask me, “This year, how about you don’t try teaching the teachers how to teach?”

Unluckily for her, every September, I declined her advice. As a result, I spent a good chunk of my education either sitting in the hallway outside class, charged with thinking about my behavior, or next to my parents, as they were called in by teacher after teacher to discuss my behavior.

Because my behavior was… not good. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 4 2014

What Not To Do When You Think Your Child Has Lice

By at 11:33 am


It was a typical weeknight. My son was having dinner while I was tackling my leftover work emails and sorting through the coupon mailer. In fact, it was actually one of those rare evenings where the ratio of food in the child’s mouth to food on the floor was pretty favorable. Things were looking good until I noticed that in between bites, my son seemed to be aggressively scratching his head.

At first I assumed he’d gotten food in his hair–a feat he’s managed on many an occasion. But upon further inspection, I saw nothing of the sort.

After dinner the scratching persisted. And the more he scratched, the more I came to face the realization that we were probably dealing with our first-ever lice infestation. I mean, the kid goes to daycare, so it was bound to happen at some point, right? Only instead of taking a productive, level-headed approach to the situation, I opted to do the thing that came naturally: I freaked out. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 3 2013

My Preschool Daughter’s Buzz Cut

By at 11:47 am

hair clipperLast autumn, nestled near my preschool daughter’s scalp and obscured by her thick hair, were lice. Our immediate desire was to rid her–and the household–of the pesky critters. Out came the clippers. Her hair was buzzed short enough to glimpse her scalp.

From birth, she’s been admired for her dark hair, which never fell away. Instead, it grew fast, first curly, and then it pitched itself right down her slight toddler back. More recently (when the formerly equally longhaired brother got lice, then a buzz cut) she sported a sassy bob. Post-buzz, she may have had less hair than at any time in her entire life. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the sudden buzz cut revealed how primary a role her hair played in people’s perception of her. What surprised me more was her own reaction to her self-perception. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 20 2012

How to Get Rid of Lice on the Cheap

By at 10:01 am

kids with liceWe’d lived in the US for a little over a year when I came home from school one day with lice. At the time, my parents were horrified, associating the parasitic vermin with their victims being dirty. (Fact: Head lice actually prefer cleaner hair; makes it easier for them to attach. Infestation has nothing to do with the level of hygiene in your home.)

Back in the USSR, the standard method of dealing with such an infestation was to cut the infected hair as short as possible, then pick out the remaining nits and bugs by hand. (Kerosene was also frequently employed for good measure.) Unfortunately, at the time, I had thick, golden red hair that fell past my waist. When the suggestion was made to cut it off, my mother and grandmother commenced keening and wailing in a manner rarely heard outside of Middle Eastern funerals. Read the rest of this entry →


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