When I was little, my nickname (courtesy of my loving siblings) was – Princess Leia. Or, as they spelled it – Princess Lia. No, not the Princess Leia with the earphone braids hairstyle who traipsed around the galaxy with the dashing and wildly attractive Han Solo. I wish. ( The Han Solo part, NOT the weirdo hairdo.) No, I was called that because my very long, very thick hair was crawling with lice. Now, the Samoans among you will know that lice (or nits) are called ‘UKU’ and their eggs are called ‘LIA.’ Hence, I was Princess Lia.
Did I like being called that? No. Did I like sharing my hair with uninvited cohabiters? No. But I was 5 or 6 years old so there wasn’t much I could do about it. My mother was a very busy woman and so she would only de-lice us once a year. She would usually delegate this delightful task to my eldest sister when she came home for the Xmas holidays. Back then, lice medicine was a toxic substance similar to nuclear waste. And it smelled like it too. You applied it liberally ( while holding your nose) and then the victim had to sit there for an hour or so while their head itched like crazy as the little creatures writhed and died an agonizingly slow death. Everybody within a five mile radius KNEW you had been uku treated for weeks afterwards because you (and your hair) continued to reek. So even AFTER my ukus had been wiped out, I was STILL called Princess Lia.
Needless to say, my childhood experiences with ukus traumatized me to such an extent that I am now a mother on a mission. NO child of mine will EVER suffer the indignity of being called Princess Lia. Easier said than done….Any parent of primary school aged children will know how difficult that mission is. My daughters are blessed with lustrous, luxuriant hair. And at least once or twice a year – they come home with ukus. Ugh. But thanks to my vigilance, the illegal aliens only get to stay a few days at best. As soon as even one stray creature crosses my doorstep, I am on the warpath. I do not rest until every strand of hair has been examined and de-licified. And nobody else in my house gets to sleep either.
For the ignorant and uninitiated, here’s a few tidbits you may find helpful when waging your own war on lice.
1. Prevention is better than cure. (How dumb are we that we have to keep having that mantra repeated to us?!) Put up effective border control and you wont have to worry about hunting down and deporting the illegal immigrants. When thinking prevention, think ‘green’. Lice hate tea tree oil for example. Mix a few drops of the essential oil with water, put in a spritzer bottle and squirt your kids hair every morning before they go to school. I also make my own shampoo using a plain base with added teatree oil ( which is also good for dandruff and other scalp probs) and maybe some lavender or lemon oil to smell even better. Beat it into your kids heads – don’t share hats, brushes or hair-ties with anybody at school. Braid long hair everyday. Flowing, come-hither Beyonce type hairstyles are an open invitation for head-hoppers. (Not to mention unsavory wannabe-rapper-gangsta type boys…)
2. Save the chemical shampoo treatments as a very last resort. All the scientific research backs me up on this – frequent use of these is leading to super-strong lice. Kinda like the super-resistant strains of bacteria that no antibiotics can kill. That’s why lice are getting harder and harder to wipe out chemically. Just envision it, little mutant ukus running around your child’s head wearing radioactive protective armour, swinging off strands of their hair with death-defying leaps and bounds that only Wolverine can do in real life. They’re there. And if we’re not careful about the nuclear waste we throw at them – they’ll probably take over the world one day. And I shudder to think what all, those chemicals are doing to childrens brains…maybe i could even blame my slightly unstable self on those long ago toxic lice treatments? hmmm…
3. Instead of chemical warfare, go for good ole hand combat tactics. Buy an uku comb. Then use it to ensnare and crush the invaders. Yes its time consuming and not for the fainthearted or weak-eyesighted. But with determination and pure force, you can have your kids uku-free in a few days. And nothing beats the ancient method handed down from all your grt grandmas, searching through their hair, piece by piece, section by section, hunting lice and their eggs – one by one. (If you don’t know how to do this and you need a demonstration, visit your nearest zoo where monkeys/baboons/gorillas are usually engaged in exactly this practice. Marvel at their patience and dexterity while you’re at it.)
4. Oh, and ignore your child when she whines and wriggles and complains about having to sit still as you comb through her hair. Painstakingly. Use that golden moment while she is chained to that chair, to remind her how lucky she is to have such a caring and dedicated mother. “Now you just listen here, when I was little my mother didn’t even care that my head was full of ukus. No. She was too busy to pay attention to what was living in my hair. You just be grateful that Im taking all this time to sit here and hunt them down, eh! You just be thankful that I CARE enough to subject you to this mild discomfort.”
5. And of course, if all else fails, you could always resort to the Samoan Uku Terminator Solution – Shave all their hair off. And paint their head with kerosene.(Never tried THAT one myself but i suspect it just might work. Just keep your kid away from open flames.)
There you have it. An EX-Princess Leia’s wise counsel to help your children avoid following in her footsteps.