Lice and Gratitude–Seriously

Well, first I wrote about a snake in the toilet. And now, it’s lice in the scalp. Speaking from experience, you’d rather have the snake. Anyway, there’s one positive to having multiple bouts of lice. You kind of become an expert, and then you get to write about it in The New York Times!

lice pic
Some Light Lice Reading

But first, some gratitude. No, not for the lice. I will always be a hater when it comes to lice.

I know, you don’t normally dedicate a blog post, and you really don’t dedicate one on lice. But I am, and here’s why.

This one’s for my husband’s Aunt Erin, who faithfully read my blog posts and emailed me comments and suggestions. After I wrote about a lazy summer, she told me to post a link to that piece on the Motherlode blog of The New York Times. I listened to smart Aunt Erin, and ended up emailing with the editor. And after multiple emails and multiple drafts, I get to be in The New York Times, because the editor liked the lice piece. But first, because Aunt Erin told me I belonged there.

For any of us who feel fragile–in our work, our art, our parenting, our relationships–having someone believe in you, well, that’s what keeps us going. I’m so grateful for Aunt Erin, who died suddenly this week. I will miss her emails. They were short and sweet doses of encouragement and suggestions that propelled me forward. I just wish I’d expressed my appreciation more fully. Because unlike lice, gratitude is one thing we should share over and over.

So to all the good people who encourage me in my writing, thank you. It’s a gift beyond measure.

Here’s the link to the New York Times lice story. If you like it, please share or comment. And if you don’t, tell me why. Just like Aunt Erin would have. Thank you Erin.



Author: Kristin O'Keefe

Kristin O’Keefe has bartended in Scotland, written speeches for college presidents, and led communications & marketing for an economic development organization. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney's, Barrelhouse, Your Teen, Grown and Flown, and Scary Mommy. Find her on Twitter @_KristinOKeefe and Facebook at Kristin O'Keefe, writer.

6 thoughts on “Lice and Gratitude–Seriously

  1. Jennie says:

    Yay! Love this piece. Lice is just a fact of life. It’s not like it’s the cooties or anything!

  2. Elena Martin says:

    Here’s one for you … bed bugs. The impacts of bed bugs make lice look like a walk in the park! And the communication and stigma around them is even worse. Their presence is infinitely more disruptive, more expensive and more difficult to get rid of. CDC calls them a health “nuisance” (vs a threat) and so outbreaks are not monitored at schools, or by Health Departments in communities (not my job, mon)… I had to visit a student home; and while seated on the couch there, I brushed a couple of tick-looking bugs off of me. I’d never seen a bed bug at that time, but that would soon change. Now, I know that only takes one pregnant female to hitch a ride on one’s clothing, shoes or purse to set up infestation potential. In my own case, 4 months later … full blown infestation in my own home (about time from exposure to incubation to infestation), though I never once saw one by light of day. They’re nocturnal. By the time you become aware of them, it’s too late. After having had to pack up, remove belongings, vacate my home (allergic response to pyrethrins, the unique class of chemicals used to treat them), I am still on the look out for them every single day months later. Imagine having to dry-heat treat every piece of fabric! I am still putting my house back together 6 months later. Total costs for integrated pest management,furniture replacement, displacement costs, about $6K and rising. No one at the schools wants to talk about the fact that backpacks and hoodies are high risk hitch-hiking vehicles. School nurses … same story … not our job. Far less attention is given to bed bugs, though the impacts are what I would characterize as “lice on steroids.”

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      I am so sorry, Elena, that sounds like a take-over-your-life and wallet kind of horror story. I misdiagnosed bedbugs for one awful 24 hour period and it was the worst (turns out the bugs I found in my child’s room were just carpet beetles). Have you ever listened to the bed bug story on This American Life? It’s an episode about people who can’t sleep, and one very powerful story is about bed bugs and how it took over family’s life. Here’s link:
      It does sound like you have a story to tell. Are you writing about it?


  3. cynthia says:

    Hi! I also experienced the lice problem with my kids. I wish to share my cost-free solution… applying aloe vera gel straight from the stalk to the scalp and hair worked wonders! it is chemical-free and safe for kids. applied twice or thrice and the lice problem was eradicated… also great for dandruff and dry hair!


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