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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Lousy Cousins
By LauraLee Shaw


Eleven more dayyyyys. Only three days had passed since my brother and his wife left their kids with us while they cruised the Caribbean for their anniversary. It felt like they'd been gone a month.

Kylie had been less than enthused when I told her that her cousins were coming to stay for two weeks. “Mom, I don’t want them to come. Mark’s always picking on me, and Liz is a bully. They’re brats, Mom!”

“You’re exaggerating, Kylie—and no name calling. Just let me know if anything gets out of hand, okay? Start praying. Remember, they are your cousins, and cousins are supposed to love each other.”

Though I hated to admit it, Kylie was right. Her cousins acted like brats. Mark, at nine years old, had been name-calling Kylie from the moment his parents left. And Liz, who would be eight the month after Kylie, ganged up with Mark when she thought I wasn’t listening.

“Hey Guy-lie, you color like a baby.” Mark hovered over Kylie as she lay on the floor minding her own business. “Are those cooties in your hair?”

Kylie’s coloring turned to scribbling. “Shut up, Mark!”

I wanted to high-five Kylie, but I restrained myself. “Mark, stop picking on Kylie. And Kylie, don’t say ‘shut up’.”

Liz turned her back toward me and muttered, “Yeah, we wouldn’t want to hurt Kywie’s feewings, would we?”

I gritted my teeth. Father—please show me how to get through to these br—children. Help us to love them Your way instead of our own.

“MOM!” Kylie shrieked from her bedroom the next morning. “Liz has bugs in her hair!”

I discovered Liz sitting in a puddle of dark brown speckles on Kylie’s bed scratching her head frantically. “Her bed has bugs in it!”

Mark came running as well. “Ewwww—are those fleas?”

Liz pointed her finger at Kylie. “Her bed gave me bugs!”

“Told you she had cooties.” Mark stuck his tongue out at Kylie.

I was outwardly calm, but my heart was racing. “Liz, run to the bathroom. We’ve gotta get the lice outta your hair.”

“LICE!” All three kids shouted in unison.

“I need to check all of your heads. GO.”

Mark was teasing both of the girls as I examined their hair. My nerves in a wad, I decided that some tough love was in order. “Mark, go sit over on the side of the tub and stop the meanness. While I’m checking the girls’ hair, I don’t want to hear so much as a PEEP out of you.”

Shocked, Mark obeyed.

“Okay, Kylie, you’re all clear. Liz, it looks like you’ve had this for some time without realizing it. I need to check your brother.”

Twenty minutes later, I was soaking Liz’s and Mark’s scalps in mayonnaise. Neither of them was happy about the odor or the ugly shower cap they had to wear while I attempted to smother the remaining bugs from their heads. In the meantime, I ran around washing all the sheets, clothes and blankets in the house while Kylie vacuumed the floors.

After three days of trying to chase Mark down with the dreaded wire comb for nit-picking, I suggested shaving his head.

Mark put his baseball cap on his head and held it tightly. “No way!”

Liz chimed in. “Do it, Mark. I would if I were a boy. Think about what a pain this is. Ouch!” Kylie was patiently combing through her cousin’s hair one section at a time, removing tiny white eggs by the dozens.

“Liz is right, Mark,” Kylie added. You’ll look cool with a shaved head. Like a biker dude.”

“Quit teasing me!”

“I’m not teasing. I really think you’ll look cool. Honest.”

Mark put his head down in surrender, shutting his eyes tightly. “Okay, Aunt Vickie. Just do it.”

“Good decision, Mark—no more lousy lunching for those lice.”

Mark half-smiled and then looked up at his aunt. “First, I need to ask a question.”


“Why are you guys being so nice to us? We haven’t been very nice back.”

I shot a look at Kylie, giving her the cue to answer. “Because we’re cousins, and cousins are supposed to love each other.”

Thank You, Lord, for helping them see Your love through us.

Liz looked up at her cousin with a tear in her eye. “Thanks for not making fun of me.”

“Yeah—and I’m sorry. I guess we’ve been pretty louse-ey cousins to you, Kylie, haven’t we?” Mark joked.

Kylie laughed. “The louse-iest!


Luke 6:28 (NLT)
Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.

John 13:35 (NIV)
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

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Shirley McClay 05/29/08
Great story... dialogue was very realistic... never had to deal with lice and hope I never do! Yuck.. creepy crawlies.
Sara Harricharan 05/29/08
Ooohh, this makes me shudder to think of lice. Lol. Glad that they were able to finally come together though-and to quit the name calling and everything. I love the realistic dialouge and efforts such as "br-children" to change brats to children, well that shows great character-good job! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 05/29/08
Your story is very good and descriptive. I had to scratch my head a time or two. :) I love the lesson in this. It would also be perfect reading for a 'tweenager. Wonderful writing!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/30/08
This is a wonderful story--the dialogue true-to-life, and the lesson presented excellently. The ending is very clever--just my kind of pun.
Lynda Schultz 05/30/08
Cute story and play on words. I didn't know that mayonnaise worked on lice—that one I'll tuck away in case I ever need it. Nice work.
Laura Anne Harrison06/01/08
This is so delightful! Some years ago, I went through a similar experience with my three girls - only I didn't know about the mayonaise. Thanks for sharing.
Laury Hubrich 06/01/08
I'm still scratching my head -- argh! Been thru lice before, a fact of life when our kids are around other kids -- it happens. (Is that what the Bible means by, "in the world but not of it"? LOL! Now that that is said: I LOVE THIS! Wow! I got goosebumps reading about lice. How funny. Truly great writing, Laura;)
Joanne Sher 06/01/08
I KNEW, one day, you'd write a story with this "theme" - I'm impressed it didn't take you long to get there. :) This is a great piece with a first-class message. Enjoyed it! Perfect title too, of course.
Betty Castleberry06/01/08
Ewww...lice. You made it all very realistic. Good message in an entertaining package.
Sharlyn Guthrie06/01/08
I wondered where your title would take us. (very creative!) I like the gentle, non-preachy message presented in this story. Nice job.
Cheri Hardaway 06/01/08
Perfect title! Great job with the story and the love lesson wrapped within.

You brought back every fear that those little bugs can put into me! My kids are 17 and older now, but when they were younger, like Kylie, Mark, and Liz, they had a bout with lice. We didn't use mayonaise, but olive oil, followed by a vinegar rinse to make the nits slide from the hair. It took probably three rounds to get it out of their hair. They'd gotten it at a birthday party and had it for quite a bit before we discovered it. What a nightmare! Gave it to me too! Cheri
Mariane Holbrook 06/01/08
You are just too cute! Only you could take a subject like lice and make it funny! When I was teaching grade school, you can't imagine how awful it was when 27 little first graders got lice from each other. The worst nightmare! And your darling story about cousins isn't where I expected it would go, but you love to put a twist on your entry just to keep us guessing and grinning! Kudos, my friend!
Yvonne Blake 06/01/08
I like your title. Good use of dialogue. It sounds like a bunch of kids!
The last line is perfect.
Good job!
Lyn Churchyard06/01/08
Your title made me wonder where it was going. The more I read, the more I itched to see the final outcome. Excellent use of dialogue in an all too common situation of kids against kid. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, you sure know how to tell a story girl. Well done!
Dee Yoder 06/01/08
Oh my-the dreaded lice attack. Most kids go through it and what a torture for moms! Enjoyed the characters and the gentle message in this, Laura.
Joshua Janoski06/02/08
This reminded me of my younger cousin Elisha. She was always such a brat, but finally we started to get along as the years went by.

My head started itching as I read the part about the lice. Talk about immersing the reader in the story! You managed to do it to me. :)
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
Excellent, Laura! And very squirmy. I've been there, done that...it's no fun. What I liked best is that your children acted and spoke like real children. Very well done!
Debbie Wistrom06/02/08
I'm pleased and impressed that the bratty cousins recognized and received and then returned the love the didn't deserve. WELL DONE!
Peter Stone06/04/08
My first thought was that the title was perhaps inappropriate, until I read the story and saw the irony in it! The title is perfect. Loved the Bible verse tie in at the end, it is so hard to love those who treat you badly, especially for kids. The story also brought back memories of my daughter catching those horrid little creepies, and the frenzy of activity to get rid of them. Great to see the cousins learn from the experience.
LaNaye Perkins06/04/08
Laura I really liked how you told this story. I remember all too well when my precious little boys came home from school with these awful critters. Ewwwwwwwwww, it right, and they both got shaved heads. Great writing!
Joy Faire Stewart06/04/08
Great dialogue and descriptions! The writing is very realistic. Excellent!
Aaron Morrow06/05/08
Great story and message! I really enjoyed the dialogue with the br...um cousins :).
Most excellent!
Tim Pickl07/26/08
Twice the lice makes 'em twice as nice! Amazing how the Lord works, and humbles even BIGGEST BRATS among us.
Love the ending--it brought tears.