you're reading...

Cornelius News

Modern Dad: Nit nabbers need noggin gnats (to feel fulfilled)

By Jon Show. Five years earlier we were sure we were doing all the right things as parents! But I confess: We have cooties.

I know a lot about lice. Too much for any person, really, but definitely too much for a bald man in his forties.

My first run in with galloping dandruff came when I was 35 and there was an outbreak in Future Man’s daycare. I spent days examining his fine white blond hair mistaking every speck of anything as a creepy crawly.

Turns out he was the only kid in the home daycare who didn’t get it. We revelled in the cleanliness of our child’s hair and congratulated ourselves on the impact of our superior genes and parenting.


Five years later I received a frantic text from my The Mother of Dragons, who was in Texas visiting family with Future Man. Their last night they were there she discovered a cootie citizenry in numbers that rivaled the population of Jakarta.


I walked upstairs with a head-lamp and straddled a sleeping Blonde Bomber. It only took one part of the hair on top of her head for confirmation. We had a full-blown noggin gnat pandemic.

I already knew the medical shampoo doesn’t always work; you have to comb them out because the shampoo doesn’t kill the nits (eggs). And I also knew there was a cottage industry of people who do this for a living.

They are, in one word, licesavers. Need a second word? Expensive. But you don’t skimp on the necessities. Even if the hourly rate is roughly the same as some lawyers.

Enter Nit Nabber Barb, who I found online. Barb was at our house the next day cleaning out my daughter. An hour later, Future Man and the Mother of Dragons walked in from the airport and Barb exterminated their heads.

Afterwards, hundreds of dollars poorer but bug free, we sat, confused at how our genetics had gone astray. We nitpicked our parenting; clearly we’d done something but there was no identifying the root cause, so we chalked it up to bad luck.

Then, a year and a half later, our family was once again forced to call on Barb and her talents. One kid had the follicle fleas and everyone needed to be checked. Except this guy, of course.

We were two-time offenders. My friends asked if we let our children bathe with animals. Well, yes, sometimes. “Do they ever wash their hair?” I think so but, really, who knows? “Do you clean the house?” I don’t but I think my wife does.

Five years earlier we sure we were doing all the right things as parents. But now, perhaps, it was time for a reality check. A deep dive into self-awareness. A fine-tooth combing, if you will.

Armed with a heightened level of awareness we did what most parents do. Nothing. We did nothing. There’s no way this happens again. So we laughed and took pictures and turned it into our Christmas card with the following poem:

Twas two weeks before Christmas, no it was thrice.

Not a creature was stirring, not even the mice.

My hair it feels itchy, the oldest one said.

The youngest said nothing, not once scratched her head.

Check his hair with great haste, said the wife out of town

Oh no, something’s moving, cried Jon with a frown.

Call Nit Nabber Barb at once, no matter the price!

Is bald really beautiful? Well, Jon didn’t get lice!

And then, just 14 months later on a balmy Thursday evening in February, the Mother of Dragons was upstairs putting the Blond Bomber to sleep when I returned from a walk with Lightning.

“Jon,” she called from the other room. “We need to text Barb.”

She wasn’t frantic like the first time, when she thought she was clean but had scalp skippers. Lots of them. She wasn’t stressed like the second time, when she was convinced she had them but didn’t. She delivered the information with the same tone a person might say, “We need to go grocery shopping.”

The next morning Barb rolled in on her gallant white horse to save the day, for a third time. The boy was clean so she treated the girls. Unfazed at this point by head hoppers, we bagged everything up and washed the sheets. I made a joke about being in punch card territory with Barb and left to go to a meeting.

Later that evening there was no parental reflection, even after Barb expressed surprise at the number of times she’d been to our house. There was no confusion or concern about something we had or hadn’t done. We bypassed all stages of grief and went straight to acceptance and hope.

As I sat on the couch, my phone buzzed and I looked down at a text from my wife. During Infestation No. 3 I realized I’d somehow lost Barb’s contact info so she sent it to me. I stared at the wall and back at my phone. Back to the wall and back to my phone. And then I deleted the text.

There’s no way we’ll get hit a fourth time.


Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls the “Mother of Dragons.” His 9-year-old son is “Future Man,” and 5-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.”