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Nit nightmare....what do I do?

(18 Posts)
SofiaAmes Sat 13-Jul-02 22:18:12

My two younger stepkids (8,9) spend every other weekend and half the holidays with us. For the last few months they have been completely infested with nits. There were bouts in the past (normal for this age), but usually cleared up within a week or two. My husband has said to his ex many times that she has to deal with it and comb the kids hair everyday. He has suggested that she give the boy a skinhead and the girl has her hair in a plait or at least a ponytail whenever she goes out. None of this has taken place. When we had them for a week in italy over the last holiday both my son (19 mo.) and I (7 months pregnant) got nits. My husband has a skinhead so he is immune. We also spent an hour each day of our holiday combing out their hair and I spent the following week combing out mine (long and very thick and wavy) and my son's. My husband has threatened his ex that if she doesn't deal with the nits he won't have the kids any more until she does. So far he hasn't followed through, but I'm not sure that at 7 months pregnant working full time with a toddler, I can continue to handle the extra time, stress and work that it entails (laundry, hair combing, cleaning). If their mother was truly trying to deal with the nits I would probably be more sympathetic, however given her track record, she is more than likely doing it on purpose. Am I/he being unreasonable to say enough is enough and the kids can't come again until the problem is sorted? I know it would be hard on the kids, but at what point is it fair to put me and my child first?

Mopsy Sat 13-Jul-02 22:46:58

Poor you Sofia, how horrible for all of you. Not exactly loving behaviour to leave children with lice infestations, I'm amazed that their own mother can do this.

I don't think it would be at all unreasonable to take some kind of action about this problem. However, I don't think it's fair that the children should be effectively punished for their mother's lack of care. If it were me in your situation I would tell her that unless she deals with it properly on a regular basis you will be speaking to their health visitor/social services and ask them to clarify to her why it's important she change her ways. Her lack of care does constitute neglect.

You might feel this to be too heavy-handed, but from your other postings describing this woman's behaviour and the disruptive effects it has on her own children and their father's new family perhaps it's the only kind of approach that would get through. Hth Mopsy x

SofiaAmes Sat 13-Jul-02 23:06:01

mopsy, this is the least of what this woman has tried to do to me/us/her children. Unfortunately health visitors/social services don't really scare her and the reality is the most they would do is pay her a visit and she knows it. She attacked me (physically) when I was 6 months pregnant with my son and I called the police and made a report and even their visit didn't phase her. During the same pregancy she sent the kids to play with their cousin who had chicken pox the day before sending them off on a 3 week vacation with us to italy. She didn't tell us she had done this and didn't bother to check whether I had had chicken pox. Luckily I had. Her daughter got chicken pox while we were away, but luckily it was so mild we didn't even realize until we got back and her son came down with a really bad case days after we returned. Like you, I am amazed that a mother could do this to her own children.

ks Sun 14-Jul-02 09:47:38

Message withdrawn

PamT Sun 14-Jul-02 09:54:47

SofiaAimes, I think if all else fails you should resort to damage limitation. Tie your own hair up so that there is less chance of contact and maybe use a few drops of essential oil to deter the little blighters, I think Tea Tree is supposed to be good

SofiaAmes Sun 14-Jul-02 10:08:07

ks and PamT, thanks....we have already bought several nit combs, brushes for every child in the house (they have 2 half siblings and 2 step siblings living with them as well) and hair toggles for all the girls and left money for haircuts for the boys. I always keep my hair tied up anyway and am at the moment having severe hayfever so I'm wary of any oils or anything with any smell....I feel like I have tried everything any reasonable person would try and more. I have been with my husband for almost 4 years now, so I have grown used to this woman's tactics (this is also not the first time she has sent the children down with nits on purpose to annoy us), but I guess being pregnant makes me a little less tolerant than usual...

Batters Sun 14-Jul-02 10:09:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Marina Mon 15-Jul-02 09:15:33

Neem oil smells less pungent than tea tree, Sofia, and might be more suitable given your hayfever. It is also supposed to be a good remedy against nits.
I was appalled to read your posts here and elsewhere about the way your husband's ex treats her own children and you. I think you are astonishingly unselfish to persevere with keeping the relationship going and I am sure the children involved will thank you for it someday.
I don't know WHAT to suggest re the nits, though. Nothing you can do will stop them getting reinfested the minute they return to their "home". Some schools exclude children whose parents ignore nit infestations - maybe that might make her pay attention. And I think it might be worth following through your threat, I don't think even St Jude would blame you!
What do the the children themselves think about this? Are they uncomfortable (I know some children are oblivious to the itching)? Are they embarrassed? If they told their mother they can't come to you unless they are clean, and you briefed them carefully to explain that it is a health reason, and not because you don't want them, might it help?

SoupDragon Mon 15-Jul-02 09:38:54

Using loads and loads of hair conditioner is meant to work too.

susanmt Mon 15-Jul-02 20:35:09

This might be a bit drastic - but could your dh take them for a haircut? Surely for the boy at least this would be appropriate, the sort of thing a father/son shoud do? You could suggest that if she didn't get the girl sorted out you'll do it for her too?
If I could get my hands on her ooooooh - she sounds like a really screwed up person. My mum's stepsons mum used to do this (complicated - not really my stepbrothers as i lived with my dad and only saw mum weekends those boys werent there) - sending them with dirty clothes and skin infestations and all sorts, and when Mum refused to have them any more it quickly stopped - she did it when my half-sister was born as she didnt want her catching anything. That is maybe your best option?
Sorry not much help.

SofiaAmes Mon 15-Jul-02 23:21:19

yeah, we went through the skin infestations a few years ago. The ripped clothes just make me laugh as I couldn't care less. We've tried offering to give the kids haircuts, but they don't want them, and I don't feel comfortable forcing that on them. Somehow forcing it seems a violation of their feelings to me. The kids themselves don't seem to mind having the nits...they aren't complaining about itching, and it seems to be rampant in their school and pretty common among all the kids (they live on a pretty nasty council estate) so there isn't really any embarassment associated with it. I try not to make them feel bad about it, as i don't think it will achieve anything except make them feel bad about themselves. They are too young to deal with it on their own without their mother's support. I think the refusing to have them down until the nits are gone will probably be the most effective solution as our "free babysitting service" is very convenient for their mum. I guess I was really looking for confirmation that I am not being unreasonable in saying enough is enough which everyone has very kindly confirmed. thanks!

WideWebWitch Tue 16-Jul-02 00:06:23

Blimey SofiaAmes, I've only just read this: what an awful woman! It seems sad to stop the children from seeing their father but if that's what it takes it seems reasonable. Maybe in the ex wife's case enlightened self interest is the only thing to appeal to...

Batters Tue 16-Jul-02 12:39:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copper Tue 16-Jul-02 13:28:25

What do teachers do to stop themselves from getting nits - they must have some useful tips. I think I'd go for the prevention methods on myself and my kids, and a policy of nitcomb on arrival followed by plaits or hair gel. Although they aren't very pleasant, nits don't actually cause any health problems (I asked my GP about this once when deep in the throes of twice daily nit combing). Do your step-kids feel upset by this?

tigermoth Tue 16-Jul-02 19:05:26

blimey, SophiaAmes, I've only just read this thread, but have seen your other comments about this woman. She sounds really screwed up, or is she depressed? Is the neglect a matter of won't or can't?

I just don't know what to say. In the grand scheme of things, IMO, nits are less important than the children's relationship with their father. It sounds like they are getting a rum deal at their mother's home right now and really enjoy their time with you.

But why should you be a saint indefinitely? You have been very sorely put upon and you are pregnant. I can see exactly why you feel drastic action is needed. I would too.

Is there any other sort of drastic action, appealing to this woman's self interest, that doesn't involve the children not seeing their father?

SofiaAmes Tue 16-Jul-02 23:17:01

well, here's a dh told his ex tonight that we're not having the kids this weekend or any weekend until they are nit free. Her responses (in order): 1) that stuck up b**ch (i.e. me) must have given my kids nits and now she's blaming them; 2) my boyfriend has them too and he's not complaining; 3) my baby has them too so why shouldn't yours; 4) I've had the kids up all night combing their hair and I can find any nits; 5) There's an infestation at school so all the other kids have them too. etc. etc. etc.
(Please note that I have omitted all the swear words, telephone hangups, screaming, shouting, crying....)
I can't wait to go on holiday.

tigermoth Wed 17-Jul-02 12:42:49

Well, as for point 5, SophiaAmes, the school holidays are about to start, so this is the perfect time for her to fight those nits.

And with the prospect of 6 weeks without school or you giving her a break from the children, she's got a very strong reason to get out that nit comb!

Hope you get this sorted. BTW, and don't answer this if you don't want to, will your partner get a chance to tell the children direct, or will this news get relayed via their mother?

ks Wed 17-Jul-02 13:30:53

Message withdrawn

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