Just had to give myself a daily affirmation to chant. It's not really working though. This is just a plain old rant with no rhyme or reason but usually I love my job of working with pre-school children. I feel it's a very important job on several levels. But even having a center full of all our most challenging children all at once would be no where near as difficult as it has been dealing with some of the parents over the years. It causes me the most stress of all and it is happening again right now. And there really isn't a whole hell of a lot I can do about it. Word of mouth advertising is one of the most important things for all businesses but even moreso in childcare. We happen to take care of real live human beings for a living, and if word gets around that you are not up to par, or are rude to a parent, then LOOK OUT. Your business can really suffer. So I basically have to keep my trap shut and it really drives me crazy sometimes.
Long story short, I found head lice in a child's hair on Friday. Real live walking around insects with little tiny legs and everything. You'd think I couldn't be mistaken about that fact eh? I picked them out of the child's head myself when I found them (after she spent days itching and scratching the heck out of her scalp).... and I put them in a little baggie to show the parent when she was picked up. I come in today to find out that the parent has raised all holy heck over it, saying that she took her child to the Health Unit, a doctor and a hairdresser and all three said the child did not have lice.
Um....... what? I saw them. I chased them around. I caught them in a comb and put them on a white kleenex and watched them walking around on it while I slid it into a clear plastic bag and sealed it up. I watched them continue walking around before shoving the bag in the freezer til home time.
So what the heck? I have a blasting angry parent saying that she NEVER wants us to touch her child's head again. Oh now that's just great. She doesn't want any of the staff at our center to touch her. If that is true, why on earth would she even keep her child in our care? I am baffled and I am upset. If the kid's ponytail is half hanging out of her head and pulling her hair and hurting, I am going to stop and wonder if I am allowed to do that. What if the mom asks the child if anyone touched her hair and she says 'yes'? She is only 3, who knows what she could say.
But mainly I am upset that my boss had to take an angry phone call from a parent, and that supposedly other professionals said I am incorrect. How could I be fricken wrong? What kind of dandruff, dermatitis, or dirt has SIX LEGS AND WALKS??? And no, it was not an ant, in case you are wondering. I pulled out 5 lice of varying sizes (full adult and even a teensy little nymph) and they walked. I don't even know if the parent showed anyone the bag or if she just had them check her head. But to add to the fun, her head is also full of nits (eggs). There are at least 60. I know what they are. I know exactly what they look like, and I'm not an idiot. I shaved my own daughter's head bald almost 4 years ago because she had lice and the school would not allow her back in until all the nits were pulled out. I worked 4-5 hours a day for 9 days and still couldn't get them out. My child missed 6 days of school and I was sick of it. Her hair is more like chinchilla fur and impossible to manage for lice issues... so I got out the razor and she got a buzz cut on the lowest setting. It was horrible.
But I obviously know what I'm talking about and it doesn't take rocket science degrees to know that when you pull actual walking moving insects out of a child's scalp hair, it's not dermatitis, which is what the parent is claiming. I think she did not show or tell anyone about the bag or how I said they were walking and moving. I don't know what to say about it all and I just had to vent on here. I did not have the foresight to keep one of the larger adults in a separate bag as 'back up proof'. We've had other children over the past 12 years with lice issues and I've never ever had a parent flip out and tell us we were wrong and then demand we never go through their hair again because we have no idea what we are talking about. There is also a disconnect where the regional health authority does not want a big deal made about lice because they don't carry disease and happen so often --- but I also look at it like this: I don't want bugs in my children's hair! I don't want nymphs biting my kids' scalp and sucking their blood and making them itch. I don't want my kids to have trouble sleeping because they are itchy and irritated by critters crawling around in their hair. And I dont want my kids to have to stay home from school (as is the current policy in most of my district's schools) and me to lose money from work to stay home with them. So, if something happens at my job where I know 100% that a child has head lice, I am going to ask the parent to deal with it. Is that so wrong?? I don't get it.
My boss is in a quandry as well because she agrees, but has this parent calling her very upset and angry. I then call the health unit to find out who told this parent that it was not lice, only to be told by the head nurse that they have a policy of 'no confirming or denying' so she doesnt know who on earth would have told the parent a definitive 'no' anyway. They can only suggest treatment ideas. Like if a parent comes in saying 'is this lice?', the nurses cannot say 'yes' but they can say 'this is how you treat lice'. If they thought it was not lice and instead a case of dermatitis, they could say to the parent 'there is also dermatitis as a possibility, so you should go to the doctor and if that is it, they will prescribe a cream or ointment'. So basically they are telling you what it is in a roundabout way, but not saying YES or NO.
So where is all this coming from? And why would several hair dressers say it wasnt lice, leading this parent to freak out on us and be upset? IT IS. I know it is and I know without any shadow of doubt that I am right. All my coworkers saw it and agree 100% as well. So where does that leave us?
With a child in our center with an active lice infestation that we cannot do anything about and the parent does not believe it needs any treatment. I'm sure the other parents at the center would be totally thrilled if they knew what was going on. But I feel yuck inside about it because I have to face this parent every day as well as in extra curricular places outside of work, and she thinks I am a dork who made a totally wrong judgment and caused her a huge amount of strife at home that I will not go into here because it does not relate directly to me. The parent also said that I horrified her by talking about it in front of other parents. That is absolutely untrue! When the parent came, there were two men standing there, my coworker's brother and father. They had no idea what was going on and I very deliberately did not say a single word about hair, scalp, lice, etc. I followed her out the door to pass her the bag from the freezer and said 'I put them in there so you can show them'... meaning to the Health Unit because she told me on the phone she has taken her daughter there several times and they kept saying it was not lice (nits)... That is all I said and I was very conscious of the fact that other people were standing right there. But this mom is upset and she has it in her mind that I talked about the lice in front of those two men. How do you get around that?? You can't! Not without arguing and that's not a good plan either.
So I have to face that and hope that ... what?.... the issue just goes away and we don't end up with other kids infested and then their parents and siblings? Great.