Saturday, September 15, 2012

Head Lice

Yuck!
In all my years of teaching, I have never had head lice, but I realize how fortunate I am.  Many of my fellow teachers have had to deal with it at home!  It's expensive.  It's labor intensive!  It's a pain!  In a family that has the money and patience and the endurance, head lice usually comes and goes without too much more than some very LOUD moans and groans.  But to many of our families living in poverty, it is a dreaded curse.  And it can be a constant worry.   I am sure it is embarrassing.  I know it is uncomfortable, because I have seen the scratch marks on the back of of a child's head that has been fighting the itching,  but its more than that.  A child that is sometimes already struggling is eliminated from school.  While I agree with the policy, it really breaks my heart.

This week, my heart was broken in two.  A little first grade girl that I love and adore had her head buzzed in response to head lice.  According to the mom the child asked to have it cut so short because she didn't want her mom pulling her hair to get the nits out.  The child's story is different, but it doesn't really matter.  She appeared at school, "looking like a boy," the bus kids said.  But that's not the story I want to tell.

The story I want to tell is what happened in our little community...  The news spread quickly as adults who knew this child were horrified that a parent would shave a little girl's head because of head lice!  I was in a meeting that morning and before I got back to class, Julie and KK had transpired to make her four of the cutest little flower and glitter headbands you have ever seen.  They brought her down to the Office, let her try them on, and paraded her through the Office as the Principal and office staff ohh-ed and ahh-ed about how beautiful she looked.  She was shy at first but basked in the attention.  The next morning Melanie sent a handful of headbands that she had gathered from her daughter's closet.  We allowed our little munchkin to choose from one of the colorful new hair accessories that morning, and you should have seen the sparkle in her eyes!  She really walked with a new confidence all day!  And her work - more focused, better handwriting, more engaged!  Christy brought down a large bag of the cutest new tee-shirts and shorts.  Melanie brought new jeans. When we showed her the large bag to take home, her eyes got so big, they nearly popped out of her head!  Tracy measured her foot so she could get her a new pair of shoes.  I don't think I have ever seen her in a new pair of shoes.

Marissa, a former Creeker
Then to top everything off,  KK appeared with a former student at our classroom door.  She was a former Creeker that is now a college student.  She told the children about herself - she is very beautiful.  Then she took off her hat to show her bald head (cancer has taken her hair).  She talked about looking different now - the sometimes unkind remarks.  She talked about how each of the children in our class is different and how those differences make us a strong classroom family because we value those differences.  She took my little munchkin off for some very valuable one-on-one quality time...

Who does this?  Where else would this happen?  I wanted to tell this story because it illustrates the heart of our community. I didn't go around shouting this story when tears filled my eyes when I first saw my little munchkin.  In fact, just a small handful of adults who have a relationship with this child noticed the change, but those people didn't just talk, they jumped into action. I think I work with some of the MOST giving and loving people... who really walk the talk.  I know there are educators doing this sort of work - mission work - all over the country, but I feel blessed to work in a place where this is a daily occurrence.  To each of you out there who cares enough to invest yourself in the life of a child, and especially to my Creeker comrades who always rise to the occassion, my heartfelt thank you.  Thank you... for making a difference...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article. I've enjoyed this contribution. Its nice to see every questions answered in a blog post like this. I will add this post on my blog and link to it. Thanks for a clear informative post, I've learned a lot. I hope to see videos though as I can be A.D.D and reading articles is not my favorite thing to do online. So what I do sometimes is just print the whole thing and read offline.

Suzanne said...

We do work in an incredibly giving and compassionate community. The benefits our students will take from here are life long. This little girl will forever remember feeling special... in a good way!

Mrs. Patricia Wallace said...

Thank you, dayle, for taking the time to write this post. As you mentioned already, this is a sweet child who's obstacles are at times very visible for others to see. She's very timid but when she does give you her golden smile, her eyes do sparkle and how beautiful she is...with hair or without.