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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