I spend a lot of time on my blog trying to describe my day-to-day life in Israel, primarily as a means of demonstrating to those who live outside Israel that my life is really only slightly different than it was when I lived in Toronto.
There is so much bad press coverage about Israel and Jews that it scares the bejeebers out of me. If I didn't know better, I would be scared of us too. However, I want those who live outside of Israel to see how regular we are. Don't bother writing me about the differences. I am talking about the daily life of regular people.
Now that I have said that, I am going to talk about a very small -- minuscule actually -- thing that does make life very different from my North American existence. What, what, what is she talking about you may ask?
I am talking about head lice.
Before you all run for your chemical/poison shampoo and a super strength lice comb, let me tell you that living with lice was one of the most difficult adjustments I had to make to life in Israel. In Toronto if your child gets lice, you get a call from the school and that child is sent home ASAP until his or her head is so clean that you could eat off of it ... sort of.
Here, society has a very different view of lice. I have heard many Israelis say that if your child has lice then that child must be popular. In other words, if your head is constantly close to others' heads, then lice is the inevitable conclusion. And not a bad thing.
In the schools, it is simply a non-issue. Yael once asked her teacher if she could move her seat because the girl sitting next to her was scratching her head (the international sign of lice). The teacher said no and told her to go sit down. End of story.
Needless to say, we North American parents are not so laid back about this lice business. We have been socialized to see lice as totally gross -- and I am not suggesting otherwise.
However, what has changed for us is that combing for lice has become a normal routine in our homes, similar to brushing one's teeth. It's part of the getting ready for bed procedures. And when we do find a little critter, all we think is: "Okay, change your pillow case and check more just in case." And that's about it.
The first time one of my kids got lice here, I called every parent in my child's class to inform them. Now I realize why my kids got lice a second time, and a third time and a fourth time, etc... Most of those parents took my call, said thanks for the information and then got off the phone and went back to what they were doing. They didn't even waste any energy laughing at my naivete.
Of course there were a few parents who took me seriously. Yes, all of them North American immigrants like myself who were socialized in an anti-lice environment.
The worst part of this itchy tale is that every once in a while guess who else gets lice? Moi. You can't spend your days battling an invisible enemy without the odd war wound. It never ceases to amaze me that I got through my entire childhood without even one bout of critterhead and here I am at almost 50 years of age, combing my own bloody head for lice.
And the microscopic battle rages on...
... pretty much as successfully as the macroscopic battle that defines life in Israel.