My daughter’s hair is out of control. It’s long, curly, fine, and all over the place. I haven’t been able to bring myself to cut it yet. More often than not, her hair resembles Gene Wilder’s in Young Frankenstein. I usually have to wrestle it into pigtails or a ponytail, lest she look like she got a little too curious with an electrical outlet.

My daughter has also had chronic cradle cap on her scalp, which drives me insane. Yes, it’s harmless. Yes, her hair covers it up most of the time but when she’s sitting on my lap I can see it while I run my fingers through her curls, and it drives me insane. I’ll sit there and try and pick some of it off like some sort of mother chimpanzee while she fusses and protests. I did a little bit of research the other week on toddler cradle cap, and one website helpfully suggested rubbing olive oil into her scalp, letting it sit, then loosening the scales (like she’s a lizard) with a comb.

So the other night during bathtime, I was armed with some olive oil from the kitchen. While Nellie was playing, I wetted her hair (which she hates) and gave her head a nice scrub with some shampoo. I figured I’d use the olive oil as sort of a conditioner. I rinsed her hair clean of the shampoo (from Nellie’s reaction, I think the water I use to rinse her head is actually acid) and then rubbed the olive oil into her scalp. Have you ever tried to rub anything into a naked, slippery toddler’s scalp? It’s not easy, especially when said toddler is protesting and sliding all around the tub like a greasy seal.

I digress. I got the olive oil in, let it set and then I started combing away her flakes. Much to my delight, they loosened easily and her scalp immediately looked better. I began the process of chasing her around the tub as she slipped and slid and yelled, “I MERMAID! I DOLPHIN! WHOAAAAA!” attempting to rinse her hair (again with the acid, or snake venom, or whatever my water is made of). Nellie wailed and thrashed and complained and after a few decent attempts at getting the olive oil out of her hair, I finally told her we were done and got her out of the tub.

We went about our normal nighttime routine and put her to bed. The next morning I greeted my pajama-clad girl with a hug and a kiss…

And then I saw her greasy little head and I jumped back slightly. It looked like someone had poured a vat of grease (or, you know. Olive oil) on the top of her head. It was then that I realized that after I had doused her head in olive oil, I had failed to do what the instructions on the internet had said, and that was to rinse it with shampoo again after combing the cradle cap flakes off.


“What’s wrong with Nellie’s hair?” Josh asked as he came into the room.
”Uh. I put some olive oil on her scalp to try and help with her flakes and also the tangles in her hair..”
”It looks awful.”
“Yes. I’m aware.”

I pulled her up into my lap and scooped her greasy curls toward the top of her head, winding a ponytail holder around them.
“There. That’s better.”
Josh gave me a side-eye and went to empty the garbage.

My girl went to school today dressed in a cute pink and plaid dress, Spider-Man shoes, and a head full of greasy hair that smells kind of like a salad. I had to explain to her teacher what had happened and that she wasn’t dirty; her mother was just an idiot.

Sorry, kiddo. Mom fail.