Bella, challenges and joys of parenthood, children, head lice, mother, New Zealand, samoa

Dirty Words

                     What I wish uku-killing assassins looked like.
Today I’m going to use some filthy language on this blog. Guaranteed to send the fainter-hearted amongst you, running for the hills.

Head lice.

We’ve got ’em. Do you?

I’ve blogged about this nasty stuff before – Waging War on Princess Leia Only this time, it’s different. This time, we are facing predators on a whole new level. In Samoa, we call head lice “uku’s”. Here in New Zealand, they call head lice a Health Board notifiable epidemic. Not long after the Fab 5 started school, Little Daughter came home with a notice. Some unfortunate nameless children had been caught with lice, the appropriate authorities were notified and hence, an epidemic warning to all parents from the Health Board. With instructions on what to do if you caught some and how to do it. I freaked out and my brown mother paranoia set in. I don’t ever want the government zoning in on MY child’s hair and declaring us brown folks a health hazard, dammnit. Stern warnings were issued to the little ones. We got even more super serious about hair checks.

But in spite of all our efforts, those evil creatures broke through our defenses. Little Daughter confessed, “My head is really itchy. I think I have ukus!” and burst into tears. Why? Because I had freaked her out about the Auckland Health Board. “Are they going to come and get us?” she asked fearfully. I felt bad. (Since she was freaked out because I had been overly freaked out.) “No, no don’t be silly. Im going to exterminate every last one of those creatures. No Health officials are going to brand us with a scarlet letter epidemic notice.” Bella thought it was funny. She announced dramatically ( loud enough for the neighbors neighbors to hear) “Uku’s are eating holes in my brain!”

I have been fighting uku’s for nearly three weeks now and have come to a conclusion – NZ head lice are freakish mutants. They just will not die. Three different treatments and countless hours of bug busting combing sessions later and we are finally rid of these pesky parasites. ( I think. For now anyway.) I have subjected these children to enough chemicals to start our own nuclear dump site. Raked through their hair with the vicious single-mindedness of an assassin. I have had to threaten, cajole and bribe them to endure hours of bug searches and shampoo washes. Impatient, wriggly four year old Bella is the worst to treat. I have to tell all sorts of lies when I’m dealing with her.  “I’ll let you have bubblegum/watch cartoons/eat cookies if you sit still…Stop moving, or I won’t kill them for you, I’ll be a bad mother and just LET THEM eat holes in your brain. Come back here, uku’s are going to suck your blood like hundreds of little vampires! They’re going to crawl into your ears and come out of your nose…” 

 Oh, and all those ads and products with pictures of happy mothers treating their happy children for head lice? Big Fat Uku Lies perpetuated by Big Fat Uku Liars. There is no smiling, laughing or warm, tender moments of love when we are eradicating head lice. Hell no. Not in this house anyway. Especially not when you have three daughters with very long, very thick hair. Who use your hair brush and like to come sleep in your bed in the middle of the night when they’ve had a bad dream. Bringing their parasites with them. Yeah, you know what happened next, dont you…

Somebody needs to do a scientific study on Samoan ukus and NZ ones. They don’t even look the same. And I should know, because I’ve been killing them with my bare hands. ( Like ninja assassins do.) NZ uku’s are a different color than Samoan ones. (And Im not trying to make a racially-driven joke either.) And they have better camouflage techniques than Samoan ones. They are tougher, stronger, faster,  more resistant to radioactive waste. I’m telling you, these NZ uku’s are the next evolutionary step  for head lice. Definitely mutants. I was so tempted to resort to the ‘traditional’ Samoan method for killing uku’s. Cut all your child’s hair off. Then paint their head with kerosene. And pray they don’t go near any open fires. OR wrap half their heads in a plastic bag and spray them with Mortein insect-killer. And keep them home from school so the teacher doesn’t smell the pesticide and report you to the Child Protection Authorities for cruel and unusual abuse. Yep, I was tempted.

I think Bella’s right. Uku’s probably are eating our brains. I know mine isn’t working properly anymore.

                         What uku-killing assassins really look like.

21 thoughts on “Dirty Words”

  1. Memories! I was lucky to only catch uku's once in my life. I was 8 years old and my Mum washed my hair with the lice shampoo, then sat me on the floor with a white pillow case behind me and combed my hair with those saiga uku combs. If I moved she would "knock" on my head or pull my hair so that I would stop moving. I would fight to keep my eyelids open so that I would not shed any tears… because if I cried, it would make things worse!Afterwards, she would blow dry my hair. This helped because it suppossedly did not give the ukus wet conditions to multiply. Gosh, don't take my words… it's not science, it's just education from the school of "hard knocks".I feel for you Lani… you have a house of fair maidens with beautiful locks. Hope the battle of the ukus will not re-occur. PEACE and blessings to you!

  2. Firstly – Bella ROCKS! Secondly – kalofa e Lani! Thirdly – bloody parents of the other kids who are spreading the utu in the first place need to be conscientiously cleaning their kids' hair as you do yours or else the re-infection of head lice will continue on in a vicious utua cycle! Oka my head is itchy! Huggggggggs Zion xoxoxoxo don't cry darling – utu just happen to be one of those things that makes it suck to be a human being sometimes!

  3. Oh no, I'll be routing for you! I've heard lavender oil can prevent lice from getting on their head- I used it on my girl when lice went through her school. I don't know if it would work on mutant NZ lice.

  4. Tying hair up and using hairspray is another thing that apparently works too. When I was at intermediate many donkey years ago the health nurse used to come and check heads each term (three times a year) and my Grandmother mother always referred to her as Nitty Nora the Nit Nurse! It is a real problem getting and keeping hair nit free if just one parent doesn't deal with the problem. Hope the hair of your beautiful girls stay nit free.

  5. Oh oh oh. . .one of my greatest fears in life, catching ukus (we use that term in Hawaii, too). Growing up, we always knew who the 'uku kids' were in school and tried to avoid sitting next to them, but alas, everyone caught them eventually. I caught them as a teacher's assistance as an adult and to this day whenever I scratch my head, I ask my husband to check me for ukus (to which he rolls his eyes and checks anyway). One can never be too vigilant! My sympathy and (serious)prayers go out to you and the girls that you may be rid of this evil in your home! Good luck!

  6. Memories! Once a year my big sister would be appointed to de-lice all us kids and our cousins. Olden day treatments were foul smelling liquids that needed to be left in for an hour. UGH. Thank you for the commiseration…

  7. Ugh – I live in fear of these little creatures too. For some reason, and I fear to mention it in case I jinx my record! – my brothers and sister got them but I never did. I hope my hair has some anti-lice gene thing going on. I hear they like clean hair. So (confession time) since my kids started associating with other kids … I wash their hair about once every 2 weeks. When it starts looking like dreads (not an easy feat for little blonde babies!). I hope the lice really DO hate grubby hair! Cos I'm not giving them any clean hair to sink their claws into!!

  8. I agree Lina, Bella does rock. I wish she wouldnt grow up so fast because Im really enjoying her. Even tho she's so fiapoto and ulavale.And yes, uku do make life suck sometimes!

  9. Great idea about the hairspray – i can see why that might be helpful. Lots of hairspray means they cant jump into their hair easily…hmm. will try anything and everything – dont want Nitty Nora to pounce on us.

  10. Thank you Delia – i know what you mean. Im super paranoid now. EVery time i feel the slightest itch, i freak thinking about things crawling in my hair. My husband is hopeless at looking for them though.

  11. Im laughing (and scratching) and laughing some more Anna – U rock. Youre poor girls and their grubby hair, but yes, MUCH rather grubby hair then lice hair. Sigh. Note to self – must stop washing my girls hair!

  12. There are all these myths about head lice and how they are attracted to dirty hair but that's not true at all. I had it once when I was kid and boy was it a horrible experience. Never mind the thought of something crawling all over your head. I really hope you got the last of them Lani!

  13. Haha. Never had lice but I remember the scare I has when I was in school. My mother did the same thing as you. I was terrified. I didnt sit next to other kids, never put my head back in the movie theatre, or any tall chairs, convinced my mom to wait until my hair was ridiculously dirty to wash it, and cried any time someone's head got close to mine. After all, lice jump from head to head and they'll have babies in my head and all my hair will fall out. To this day I dont put my head back in the movie theatre without a hood up (not sure if that works) and I still try to avoid washing my hair too often.

  14. Okay – I have a confession to make :)I used to LOVE getting nits as a kid. I had long, curly hair and my mum would have to spend hours going through it. I deliberately sat next to the kids I knew had it hoping to catch them! Only caught them three times – but oh, the bliss when mum had to comb them out! ;)Now I'm a mum with a girl who has long, curly hair, the idea sends shudders down my spine. Lets hope she is nothing like her mother! 🙂

  15. Oi talofa e,My eldest has that THICK, long, wavy, (did I mention thick?) hamo-like type hair and she recently had an uku-episode (goodness, and yes we have them here in the US also). I found that 'rid' shampoo works the best. AND… we found that after you apply the shampoo according to the palagi's instructions, if you wrap a plastic bag around the head at the hairline for the instructed time, it is more effective. Fumigation tent? LOL! Talofa e, i si brain. Ha! I tell her her hair/head is so fefeu ai loga e ila i le fumigation exercise. Hehehehe…Good luck. Too bad you don't have those cousins who make fa'iliga uku a habit with popping sounds and all… LOL

  16. thank you so much for this……..I LOVE THIS BLOG!!! bwhaaha……are we sisters from another mister? I've been blessed with nurse mommy all my life, but when my mom wants to be samoan….trust me, the 1 time I had uku…..Kerosene was the answer…..LOL. We should totally just get that hip tattoo, maybe that will help us with the uku killings…LOL

  17. OMG Lani I hope you've gotten the last of those lil shits, lol! I have thick curly kinky hamo hair and I felt sorry for my mom when I caught them as a kid. Let's just say I am so not tender-headed at all. LOL!!

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