When a girl was in middle school, her “cleanliness” was checked. The teacher told her, “You need to take a hot bath.”

In the 1950s, when my mother was in junior high school, her teacher told the class that the school nurse would be checking to see if they were clean. My mother was afraid of being “inspected” because she knew her underwear was dirty.

Her mother didn’t let her or her three brothers and sisters take a bath every day. The owner was the only one who got to use the bathtub. The rest of the people had to bathe in the sink.

My grandmother let her four kids change into clean underwear every morning, but the three girls only got a clean bra on washday. It wasn’t washday. My mom wasn’t wearing a clean bra because of this.

My mother was very worried about the school nurse seeing her yellowed brassiere. Still, she got in line with the other teenage girls and took off her shirt when told to.

The school nurse stood behind her, pulled out the waistband of her skirt, and said, “You need to take a hot bath and put on a clean bra.”

“I should have said, “That’s great.” Can I take a bath at your house?’ She must have been surprised, “what my mom told me.

My mother told my grandmother what the school nurse had said when she got home from school.

My grandmother told her, “Don’t be a fool.” “If everyone in this house took a bath, we’d run out of water.” So that was it. Problem solved. No one told my grandmother what to do. Not even a school nurse.

I was afraid to take a shower when I was in elementary school, and I didn’t let my mom wash my hair very often. We were lucky that there were no cleanliness checks. We did have lice checks once a year, though.

I never knew that day would come before it did. My mom would braid my hair tight and send me to school. The school nurse would take off one rubber band, loosen the braid, and rub my scalp with a tongue depressor that looked like a popsicle stick.

Every year, she sent me a piece of paper with the same words written on it. “No lice. Dirty hair. Need to clean.”

So I can understand how my mother felt when the school nurse told her to take a bath. It doesn’t feel good. Like my mother, my hygiene has gotten a lot better since I became an adult.

I don’t have kids of my own, but I think cleanliness checks aren’t as popular as they used to be, but I bet they still look for lice. Is that right? Let me know if you have children in school.

Your feedback is welcome.