Bonfire season is here– even for lice.


Maya reading with Auntie Ann

Officially it is autumn.  Is there any city in American that has not banned burning leaves for many years?  We can only barely remember what a great day it was when dad decided it was time that everybody in the family get out there on the lawn with rakes and start scraping the stiff, brown, oak leaves into piles, into mountains, and then pull them on tarps to the garden pit where we made a bonfire.  The air all around for miles was redolent with leaf smoke for days, for weeks, until the first snowfall.

Do you suppose the ban on burning leaves is what attracted a certain segment of our society to marijuana?  That was just a passing thought.  I’ve got kids in trouble with authorities on my mind.  What I really meant to tell you is that another book is about to go on the “to ban”  list.  It’s about lice.  Here’s my story with as much  information as I have to date:

Two weeks ago my grandaughter – yes, the same five-year-old who keeps popping up on my blog — told her teacher in New Mexico that the lice in her hair were having a barbecue. Remember, school had been in session only one month.  The teachers and kids were just getting acquainted,  Maya is a newbie, in kindergarten.

So the teacher tells the principal, the principal calls the nurse, the nurse inspects Maya’s head and finds nothing but tangles, still feels obliged to call the parents.  The mother is taken aback — this is her first child, and Sarah is not a native English speaker.  She tells the truth:  the night before, she read her daughter a book about lice, and the lice in the story do have a barbecue in a little person’s hair.  It was fiction, of course.   Maybe there was a hidden message about hygiene in the text. But I imagine it has delightful illustrations of naughty lice, lice children can really appreciate.

Meanwhile, the other kids tell their parents about the incident,  parents call the school, the town is small.

Of course Sarah, the mother, is smart enough to take the book to show the teacher the very next day.  I hope the teacher read it to the class.

So what’s the vote?  Should the book be banned?  Should the child be punished for making up a story?  Will she be forever damaged by this humiliating experience?  Will the family become social outcasts?

I believe this scandal will blow over.  They get 75 mile an hour winds up there in Portales, whipping across a flat plain with little else but the much-appreciated odor of cow manure.  Believe it or not, this is dairy country, where milk is made into cheese and packed into little boxes with crackers stuck together with peanut butter.  Peanut butter also is made in Portales.  Trader Joe’s buys organic peanuts grown in this out-of-the-way corner of New Mexico (Portales is closer to Lubbock, Texas, than it is to Santa Fe or Albuquerque.)

This town also has a wonderful library, almost new and very well designed.  It’s a favorite destination for Sarah and Maya — even cheaper than Wal-Mart,  calmer than McDonald’s, and cooler than the Dairy Queen that sells (yum! yum!) peanut butter milkshakes.

Portales is blessed with Eastern New Mexico University, its terrific computer science programs, ag-related chemistry, teacher training, and  fine Fine Arts departments.  Did I mention that Maya also sings?  She speaks four languages, too, and she claims about 15 brothers and sisters who are made out of sticks.  Most of them live in Peach Town, under the peach tree, but are allowed to sleep standing up by the patio door.  However, Dylan and Dude are allowed in the house.  Maybe we should check their hair.

Maya will try anything.

4 comments to Bonfire season is here– even for lice.

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